Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This date in Beatles history: 1969

Some call him “the fifth Beatle.”

On January 22, 1969, keyboard player Billy Preston joined John, Paul, George and Ringo in their Apple Studio on Savile Row, London, to cut some tracks.

This was the first day of the so-called “Get Back” sessions, a proposed film project to document the creation of a Beatles album. The “Get Back” sessions eventually resulted in the band’s final LP, “Let It Be.” But they also produced the smash hit single “Get Back,” credited to “The Beatles with Billy Preston.” (The master take was recorded on January 28.)

Historian Mark Lewisohn superbly tells the tale of the Twilight of the Beatles in “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.”

According to Lewisohn, Billy Preston “happened to be in the Apple reception area on 22 January, and he was literally grabbed by George Harrison and cajoled into joining the Beatles sessions to alleviate the tense atmosphere” amongst the band... and also to add a fifth element to the organic, live-band sound of this particular project.

“The Beatles had known Preston since 1962,” writes Lewisohn, “when he was a teenage member of Little Richard’s backing group, sharing a two-week bill with the Beatles at the Star-Club, Hamburg.”

One of the songs recorded on Billy Preston’s first day with the Beatles was “Bathroom Window,” an early version of Paul McCartney’s “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window.” This song was set aside until the “Abbey Road” sessions later in ’69.

Click here to hear that early take of “Bathroom Window.” At the end, you’ll hear McCartney talking to Billy Preston about ways to change up the electric piano part.

This recording is available on the double-CD “The Beatles Anthology 3.”


Jeff said...

The breadth and depth of Preston's involvement with some of the legends of music has always impressed me a great deal - recording with the Beatles; touring with the Stones in the mid-seventies, and then playing a prominent role on Johnny Cash's last Rick Rubin sessions - great, great stuff. It says a lot for the man.

Undercover Black Man said...

... and then playing a prominent role on Johnny Cash's last Rick Rubin sessions...

Oh wow, Jeff, you caught me napping. I didn't know Preston was involved in those sessions.

I do have an instrumental LP he cut with Sly Stone in the mid-'60s, before Sly and the Family Stone blew up. He definitely had an enviable career.

dj said...

And for a view of Billy beyond the keys...


Got hipped to this from the blog Stereo Describes My Scenerio

And then for another well known artist in a different role...


And for something completly different but tre' cool.
I have the original from '69 on wax,but this is almost as much fun seeing them still knock it out of the park 17 years later.


Chicago Mike said...

How many damn 5th Beatles were there?

Stuart Sutcliffe
Pete Best
Brian Epstein
George Martin

and now Billy Preston