“One down, three to go” sang Tesco Vee of the Fab Four after Beatle John’s slaying. Were T.V. so inclined, he could now amend that to “two and a half down, two to go” upon the news of keyboardist Billy Preston passing away yesterday at the age of 59.
A Zelig-esque figure in rock history, Preston’s c.v. included playing “Get Back” with the Beatles atop the Apple headquarters, keys on the Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”, stings in Ray Charles and Little Richard’s bands, composition of the Joe Cocker/John Belushi staple “You Are So Beautiful To Me” and a small part alongside the Brothers Gibb, Peter Frampton, George Burns and Steve Martin in the fim that is to cinema what Buchenwald was to a weekend holiday, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
Preston, who also appeared in “Blues Brothers 2000” (go ahead, pick whatever death camp you want), was the first ever musical guest on “Saturday Night Live”, and had a series of legal troubles late in life that we’ll diplomatically say were the kind of thing Adam Rubin would get yelled at by Jay Horowitz for mentioning.