How did Billy Preston nearly join The Beatles?

The Beatles first met Billy Preston before they were famous. In 1962 Brian Epstein had organised a special 'All-Star' tour, where The Beatles opened for some of their American idols. Preston played keyboards for Little Richard and the band got to know him

An invitation

After occasionally crossing paths during the Beatlemania years, The Beatles and Billy Preston lost contact. Then in 1969, George Harrison escaped an acrimonious recording session by attending a Ray Charles concert. He was surprised to see Preston playing keyboards and went backstage to meet him. 

Harrison invited Preston to come to meet the other band members at Abbey Road. It proved an inspired move - The Beatles no longer liked each other but they were all fond of Billy Preston. His presence was not only musically beneficial but also discouraged inter-Beatle squabbling in the studio.  

John even suggested that he be invited to join the group, but Paul pointed out that this would unfair as they were clearly in the process of breaking up.  The group did, however, give him an official credit on "Get Back/Don't Let Me Down" (credited to The Beatles with Billy Preston). 

Fifth Beatle?

Would Billy Preston have made a good Beatle? Perhaps, though his later struggles against drug addiction suggest that it might have been an inherently unstable alliance. 

Taken from The Beatles Teaching Pack (£3.99) 

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