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billy preston :: Blog

How Billy Preston Helped the Beatles "Get Back"

Monday, June 11: 2 p.m.
"Fifth Beatle" Billy Preston recorded and performed with the Beatles and helped keep them together.

Billy Preston has the distinction of being the only musician besides the band members to be credited on a Beatles record. Preston’s status as “the Fifth Beatle” came about only because “the Third Beatle” – George Harrison – had, for all intents and purposes quit the band and would only return to the fold if certain criteria were met. It was January 1969, just 11 weeks after the contentious and seemingly interminable The Beatles (The White Album) recording sessions had ground to a close. During the sessions, an atmosphere of outright hostility had developed between the band members. Beatles archivist Mark Lewishon describes the root causes of that hostility as the perception that Yoko Ono was encroaching on the band’s sanctity, Paul McCartney's “bossing” the group around and allegedly “preaching” to Harrison about his playing. At one point during the sessions, Ringo Starr walked out and came very close to completely quitting the band.  After the stressful  White Album sessions, “As (the Beatles’) natural motivating force,” says Lewishon, “Paul could think of only one solution: to have them ‘get back’ to what had united them best before inconceivable fame and fortune had clouded the issue – live performance.”

McCartney ...


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