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Meet the Houstonian who was often known as the fifth Beatle

29th January 1972:  American keyboardist Billy Preston in London following the release of his new single 'I Wrote A Simple Song'. Preston played with countless stars including Sam Cooke, the Beatles and Sly and the Family Stone.  (Photo by Ian Showell/Keystone/Getty Images)
29th January 1972: American keyboardist Billy Preston in London following the release of his new single 'I Wrote A Simple Song'. Preston played with countless stars including Sam Cooke, the Beatles and Sly and the Family Stone. (Photo by Ian Showell/Keystone/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

HOUSTON – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

These four men are known around the world for changing the music industry forever. They are arguably the most influential musicians of all time.

While there were early members throughout the Beatles’ existence, one Houstonian was claimed as the fifth member of this band and helped lead the group to a successful album. His name was Billy Preston.

Singer, songwriter and keyboardist Billy Preston was born on Sept. 2, 1946, in Houston.

He famously played with many talented musicians including the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, among others.

In 1962, at age 15, Preston moved to Europe and was hired by Little Richard for his European tour. It was this tour that led Preston to the Beatles who, at the time, were Little Richard’s opening act.

A couple of years went by and Preston returned to America where he joined Ray Charle’s band according to the New York Times. It was during this time that George Harrison recruited the Houston-native.

According to the Ultimate Classic Rock, Preston was invited to contribute to the Beatle’s “Get Back” during their recording at Apple Studios on Jan. 22, 1969

In fact, Preston was the only musician to be credited on a Beatles recording, apart from the original four members.

Although there was no official fifth member of the Beatles, Preston was often acknowledged as that additional member. Preston is also credited as helping store the tension among the group, preventing them from splitting.

The musician was invited to contribute to other sessions and albums including “Let It Be” and “Abbey Road.” Preston would contribute to a total of seven songs in the “Let It Be” album.

In the “Let It Be” documentary, the keyboardist performed with the band on at their legendary “rooftop” concert, the last time the Beatles played live.

Preston eventually went solo and worked on other studio projects. He collaborated and performed with many other artists including the Rolling Stones, Syreeta Wright, George Harrison, Neil Diamond, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and many more.

LANDOVER, MARYLAND  - DECEMBER 13:  (NO U.S. TABLOID SALES)  Singer/songwriter and former Beatles member, George Harrison (R) and band memeber, keyboardist Billy Preston perform on stage during their "North American Tour" at the Capitol Center December 13, 1974 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 13: (NO U.S. TABLOID SALES) Singer/songwriter and former Beatles member, George Harrison (R) and band memeber, keyboardist Billy Preston perform on stage during their "North American Tour" at the Capitol Center December 13, 1974 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images) (David Hume Kennerly)

On November 21, 2005, Billy Preston fell into a coma and never woke up. Preston passed away on June 6, 2006, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Preston’s hits included the Grammy-winning instrumental “Outa-Space” in 1972,” Will It Go Round in Circles” (1973) and “Nothing From Nothing” (1974).


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