Billy Preston, the exuberant keyboardist who landed dream gigs with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and enjoyed his own series of hit singles, including “Outta Space” and “Nothing From Nothing,” died Tuesday at 59.
Preston’s longtime manager, Joyce Moore, said Preston had been in a coma since November in a care facility and was taken to a hospital in Scottsdale Saturday after his condition deteriorated.
“He had a very, very beautiful last few hours and a really beautiful passing,” Moore said by telephone from Germany. “He went home good.”
Preston, who had battled chronic kidney failure, had undergone a kidney transplant in 2002, but the kidney failed and he has been on dialysis treatments ever since, Moore said earlier this year.
Known for his big smile and towering afro, Preston was a teen prodigy on the piano and organ, and lent his gospel-tinged touch to classics such as the Beatles’ “Get Back” and the Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?”
He broke out as a solo artist in the 1970s, winning a Best Instrumental Grammy in 1973 for “Outta Space,” and scoring other hits with “Will It Go ‘Round In Circles,” “Nothing From Nothing,” and “With You I’m Born Again,” a duet with Syreeta Wright.