Keyboardist Billy Preston had the distinction of being a hit-making solo artist (scoring Billboard number ones in 1973 and '74), songwriter ("You are So Beautiful"), and one of the most celebrated sidemen of the '60s and '70s, famously collaborating with Little Richard, the Beatles, the Stones, and Eric Clapton, among others. His elegant, gospel-inflected piano and organ playing--honed by early stints with Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, and the Rev. James Cleveland--elevated him from mere session player to "Fifth Beatle," "Sixth Stone," and "nth" whoever else he played with. After a life-long battle with drugs, Preston died of a kidney-related ailment in 2006.
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