The great singer-songwriter and performer Billy Preston, the real "Fifth Beatle" has died after a long illness as a result of malignant hypertension that resulted in kidney failure and other complications. As a result of a medical insult he'd been in a deep coma since last November 21st, but was still struggling to recover. He died at Shea Scottsdale Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona where he'd lived for the last couple of years.
Watch this video of Billy talking about music as God:
As I told John Amato earlier today, Billy was in Capitol Studios several times while I worked there in the late '90s. He was always, gracious, friendly, and funny. He also came into Larrabee once while I worked there, to play on the Jet record.
I remember one time at Capitol he was warming up on the B3 in Studio A, while next door in Studio B the seasoned studio musicians playing on a TV scoring date were taking a break.
Hearing Billy, they all came running to see who was playing so freakin' amazingly. Even the session keyboard player stood smiling and groovin'. Billy was that good. Just blew everyone away.
Lots of people make music, fewer are really about music. Billy was one of those. The last time I saw him he was loving life, loving playing music, and happy to be there. I was happy he was there too.