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Why The Beatles Brought in Billy Preston to Play on This No. 1 Hit

Why The Beatles Brought in Billy Preston to Play on This No. 1 Hit

Why The Beatles Brought in Billy Preston to Play on This No. 1 Hit
November 04
09:39 2019

Of the many remarkable late releases by The Beatles, the band’s “Get Back” single stands out for many reasons. For starters, it wasn’t just a song; Get Back was also the working title for the band’s new album. After years of studio experimentation, the band wanted a live feel for its next record.

That meant getting back to playing as a band. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. In the second week of January (1969), George Harrison quit the group after more bickering. That’s how John Lennon took over on lead guitar on “Get Back.”

The departure of Harrison led to another new sound on a Beatles record: the electric piano of Billy Preston. When “Get Back” was released in April, it was the first Fab Four record with a credited guest soloist (The Beatles With Billy Preston). Not even Eric Clapton had gotten that honor.

Of the many remarkable late releases by The Beatles, the band’s “Get Back” single stands out for many reasons. For starters, it wasn’t just a song; Get Back was also the working title for the band’s new album. After years of studio experimentation, the band wanted a live feel for its next record.

That meant getting back to playing as a band. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. In the second week of January (1969), George Harrison quit the group after more bickering. That’s how John Lennon took over on lead guitar on “Get Back.”

The departure of Harrison led to another new sound on a Beatles record: the electric piano of Billy Preston. When “Get Back” was released in April, it was the first Fab Four record with a credited guest soloist (The Beatles With Billy Preston). Not even Eric Clapton had gotten that honor.

Judging by the band’s enthusiasm during its live rooftop performance and the song’s success (it hit No. 1 that summer), Preston seemed like the one man capable of keeping The Beatles together. And that’s partly what George had in mind when he asked him to play keys on “Get Back.”

George wanted a new sound — and a new vibe — for the band in early ’69

Ringo Starr and George Harrison of The Beatles sit with Billy Preston at Bar One in Los Angeles, 9th October 1990. | The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Source: Why The Beatles Brought in Billy Preston to Play on This No. 1 Hit

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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