US singer songwriter Billy Preston has died in Arizona following a long illness, at the age of 59. Preston had been in a coma at a medical facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, since suffering kidney failure in November of last year.
Preston, whose career spanned five decades, began as something of a prodigy, playing keyboards for the likes of Little Richard and Ray Charles as a teenager. Later, he worked with The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, becoming one of only two people ever to be given a label credit alongside the Fab Four, for his work on ‘Let It Be’, plus contributions to ‘Abbey Road’ and the ‘White Album’ – and is one of those people often dubbed ‘the fifth Beatle’ as a result.
He went on to collaborate with a variety of other stars, including Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, The Jackson Five, Sly And The Family Stone, most recently playing clavinet on Red Hot Chili Peppers track ‘Warlocks’ from current album release ‘Stadium Arcadium’. He also wrote ‘You Are So Beautiful’ for Joe Cocker. The musician did, of course, become famous in his own right, with a string of hit singles during the seventies.