Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nat King Cole Shares the Stage

While snagging the YouTube of Nat King Cole performing Bobby Troup's Route 66, I stumbled on the following video. It's Nat on his tv show in 1957 sharing the stage with a very young performer:

Billy Preston!

What a charming performance. Make sure you watch Natalie Cole's comments at the end. Here are two of Billy's performances in '72 and '75 after his Get Back session work as the so-called 5th Beatle:

Billy backed a startling number of artists other than the Beatles: Little Richard, the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He appeared in films Let it Be and the Concert for Bangladesh. He even shared the American Idol stage in 2005 with Vonzell Solomon. No doubt 11 year old Billy would have been a sensation on that show.

He suffered the usual occupational hazards of his profession in the '80s, but rallied in the '90s. He passed away in 2006 due to complications from kidney failure. He was 59.

Billy was a scintillating performer with hair that was the envy of many an NBA power forward in the 70's and an outgoing personality capable of soothing even the squabbling Beatles. He left us way too soon.

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