The Ritz Herald
January 1972: Popular American singer and keyboard player Billy Preston performing at the Soiree Of The Stars. © Keystone

Billy Preston to Be Inducted Into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2020

A milestone for Billy Preston

Published on May 20, 2021

15 years after he passed away, Billy Preston is being recognized as the musical genius he was when he’s inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“While I am thrilled for so many reasons and on so many levels that the Rock Hall Board of Trustees have included Billy into the prestigious class of 2020, I’m simultaneously heartbroken that Billy is not here to participate and except his richly deserved recognition. Billy would have been overjoyed!” said Joyce Moore, Billy’s manager, trusted friend and guardian of his legacy.

“In summer 2005, David Spero, then VP of The Rock Hall, arranged for me to bring Billy to Cleveland for a guest lecture and performance. It was a joyous event and I will never be able to thank David Spero and Terry Stewart enough for not only bringing Billy to the Rock Hall then but for them rolling out The Red Carpet for us,” Joyce continues,

“Billy did the interview/performance, then sat at the autograph table meeting fans for more an hour and a half afterwords loving every minute of it. It’s heartwarming that Billy was there as an honored guest with all of the respect given an inductee and now he is one.”

Billy’s career began at age 9 portraying young WC Handy in the movie “St. Louis Blues”. He dueted with Nat King Cole on Nat’s TV show at 11. By 15 he was on the road with Mahalia Jackson then Little Richard and Sam Cooke. In 1962, while backing Little Richard in Hamburg Germany, Billy forged a friendship with Richard’s opening act, 4 chaps named John, Paul, George and Ringo. That friendship evolved finding Billy participating on the last two albums the Beatles ever recorded and joining them for the last concert they ever performed on the roof on Saville Road in January, 1969. Billy toured and/or recorded with Ray Charles,The Stones and Clapton and numerous others. Billy enjoyed considerable success as a solo artist.

“You Are So Beautiful” written by Billy and Bruce Fisher to honor Billy’s mother, was recorded by Joe Cocker. The only Grammy Nominated version was the duet by Billy and Sam Moore recorded in 2005 then nominated as the Best R & B Duo or Group after the 2006 release of Sam’s “Overnight Sensational” album.

Culture Editor