Billy Preston’s star is shining more brightly than ever these November days. As part of a pre-taped mini-documentary, Preston was inducted by Ringo Starr into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame which can be seen exclusively on HBO and HBO Max Saturday, November 20 at 8/7c. None other than Sir Paul McCartney, who was present and on stage later in the ceremonies was joined by Dave Grohl and The Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, and other luminaries at the event’s celebratory closing jam of “Get Back,” in honor of Billy Preston and his unforgettable musical legacy. A full-feature documentary about Billy is in the works, directed by the Multi-Emmy award winner Paris Barclay, and will include significant interviews and incredible footage of Billy who, at 9 years old, portrayed the young W.C. Handy in the movie St. Louis Blues opposite the legends that included Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey, Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway and more.
The frosting on his cake is the release of Peter Jackson’s new six (6) hour, three-part documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” that launches on Disney+ on November 25th. Parts two and three will be released on the platform on Friday, November 26, and Saturday, November 27, consecutively. Each two-hour segment along with all of the incredible products commemorate the 50-year landmark of The Beatles’ “Let It Be” and the infamous concert on the roof, bobbies (English word for the police) and all.
For those who may not know, Billy Preston was the fifth musician in the studio during the creation, recording, and filming of the “Let It Be” project. In the original version of the documentary, Billy and his impact and input was given little to no credit. However, Peter Jackson who produced and edited over 56+ hours of footage, along with Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde, President and Sr. Vice-President respectively of Apple Records, have made sure that Billy’s contributions, both as a musician and a trusted, highly respected member of the band at that time, have been fully recognized and highlighted in every way in the documentary.
Billy is not the only musician to garner label credit on a Beatles album and single releases, Billy is now the only recording artist ever to have his vocals on a track where the Beatles were the backing band. The song “Without A Song” is part of the box set album release and those who have heard Billy’s vocals and his arrangement of that classic standard have been amazed.
“It is a great moment in music and cultural history for Billy Preston. For me and those of us who Billy was close to, it is unfortunately bittersweet because he is not here to revel in the joy of seeing it all unfold,” said Joyce Moore, a 50+ year industry veteran known as a champion of legacy artists’ rights. As a friend for decades, Moore hired Preston to serve as the Music Director for a Presidential Inauguration she was producing in 1989. Moore also served as Billy’s last manager and since his passing on June 6, 2006, has served as the devoted, undeterred shepherd of his intellectual property, name and likeness rights and legacy through the corporation she now owns that he created in 2000, Preston Music Group, Inc.
Billy, who had a heart of gold, designated charities to receive the benefits (dividends) from his shares of ownership in Preston Music Group Inc. after he passed away through the Probate Avoidance Trust he’d created in 1999 and took great pains to amend in 2004.
Joyce continued, “I try to find and take comfort that Billy is hanging with his mentor Ray Charles, George, John, Sam Cooke, Mahalia, Aretha, and his beloved mother Mutt watching all of this unfold and smiling and laughing and loving every second of it.”