The Secret History of "You Are So Beautiful"

Six years ago today, on June 6, 2006, the world lost Houston-born musician Billy Preston. The session man, kind soul and all-around secret weapon was in the mix for some of the best and brightest moments of rock's heyday. The man backed up Little Richard and Sam Cooke, and as a child prodigy he played with Nat King Cole and Mahalia Jackson.

The keyboardist and organist laid down tracks for some of the biggest albums in rock history, including the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. and Sticky Fingers, Eric Clapton, most of the Beatles' solo work and numerous others. In some capacity, he would become a mainstay in the studio for most of those artists up until his death.

It's said that at one point John Lennon wanted him to join the Beatles, but Paul McCartney shot down the idea of having too many cooks in the kitchen. That's him with the Fab Four in that famous rooftop performance. Even still, he was billed briefly as "The Fifth Beatle," and he and George Harrison would be friends for life.

Imagine the funkiness that could have come from Preston being in the Beatles through the '70s had the band still existed then...

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty