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How Billy Preston Helped the Beatles Play Nice on ‘Get Back’

How Billy Preston Helped the Beatles Play Nice on ‘Get Back’

How Billy Preston Helped the Beatles Play Nice on ‘Get Back’
April 08
10:52 2020

When George Harrison, who had briefly quit the Beatles in early 1969, decided to return to the band, he brought with him a secret weapon: keyboardist Billy Preston.

Harrison’s departure was the result of infighting and strained tensions within the Beatles. The bandmates were infamously at each other’s throats by this point, with starkly differing viewpoints on how the band was to proceed.

During his break from the group, Harrison caught a performance by Ray Charles in London. On the stage that night was Preston, whom Harrison and his fellow Beatles had befriended during their years in Hamburg. Excited to see his old pal, Harrison sent Preston a message inviting him to join the Beatles in the studio.

This wasn’t the first time a non-Beatle had joined the Fabs’ ranks. Harrison had used the same method during the contentious White Album sessions, having Eric Clapton join the group for “White My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

“It’s interesting to see how nicely people behave when you bring a guest in, because they don’t want everybody to know they’re so bitchy,” Harrison explained in the book The Beatles: Anthology. “Suddenly everybody’s on their best behavior.” Preston arrived at Apple studios on Jan. 22, just as the Beatles were working on their song “Get Back.” After being welcomed by the group, the keyboardist was quickly invited to contribute.

“He got on the electric piano, and straight away there was 100 percent improvement in the vibe in the room,” Harrison recalled. “Having this fifth person was just enough to cut the ice that we’d created among ourselves. Billy didn’t know all the politics and the games that had been going on, so in his innocence he got stuck in and gave an extra little kick to the band. Everybody was happier to have somebody else playing and it made what we were doing more enjoyable. We all played better, and it was a great session.”

Source: How Billy Preston Helped the Beatles Play Nice on ‘Get Back’

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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