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Songwriter, 'Fifth Beatle' Billy Preston Dies

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Songwriter, 'Fifth Beatle' Billy Preston Dies

Remembrances

Songwriter, 'Fifth Beatle' Billy Preston Dies

Songwriter, 'Fifth Beatle' Billy Preston Dies

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Singer-songwriter Billy Preston died Tuesday. The exact cause of his death has not been reported, but it is known he suffered a long illness which included kidney failure and other complications. Called "the Fifth Beatle" Preston also worked with other musicians, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Sly and the Family Stone.

NEAL CONAN, host:

And finally, today, we remember singer-songwriter Billy Preston who died earlier today. The exact cause of death has not been reported, but it is known he suffered a long illness, which included kidney failure and other complications.

Sometimes called The Fifth Beatle because of his work with The Beatles on hits like Let It Be, the White Album, and Abbey Road. Preston also worked with other musicians including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Sly and the Family Stone.

Born in Houston, Texas in 1946, Billy Preston grew up mostly in Los Angeles, and began playing the piano by the age of three. By the '70s he made his mark as a solo artist and won a Grammy in 1973 for his tune, Outa Space. He had other hits with Will It Go Round in Circles - you're listening to that - and Nothing From Nothing.

Most recently, Preston played on the Neil Diamond album Twelve Songs, and with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their song, Warlocks.

Billy Preston died today in a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 59 years old.

I'm Neal Conan. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

(Soundbite of song "Will It Go Round in Circles")

Mr. BILLY PRESTON (Musician): (Singing) Let the bad guy win every once in a while. I've got a story, ain't got no moral. Let the bad guy win every once in a while. Will it go 'round in circles? Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky? Will it go 'round in circles? Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?

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