About the first thing I noticed about Billy Preston was that he had a Beatle haircut.
Although a Beatle haircut was far from being uncommon at that time, this was the first time I'd seen this style on a Black man.
He certainly wore it well!
The hairstyle, in itself, was enough to make me do a double-take when it came to Billy Preston, but his organ-playing also wowed me.
I mean, this guy was really great!
His playing was very intricate and had this kind of Southern Bluesy-Jazzy sound to it that was indescribable. I can come up with a phrase such as "Southern Bluesy-Jazzy Comfort Food," and that would only begin to scratch the surface.
Back then, I could tell you that I liked his playing but couldn't tell you why--but, as I look back on my feelings now, hearing him felt like a family vacation to the Deep South with its Mom & Pop restaurants serving generous amounts of home cookin'; its moss-covered live-oak trees haunting the landscape; and its trains howling eerily as they passed through Biloxi on the L&N track.
His hands looked beautiful and sensitive as they played the keyboard, and I saw that he was wearing one of those ID bracelets made popular by Paul McCartney.
I thought that his name was Joey at one time, because I'd asked my cousin if she knew his name, and she said that she thought that it was Joey. This was because there was also a Joey Cooper on the show who played with the regular band called The Shindogs.
She told me later that she'd learned his name was Billy Preston--and that she, personally, didn't see what I found to be so cute about him.
Well! I couldn't disagree with her more, because I found all that I've mentioned so far cute about him--along with that big, wonderful, gap-toothed grin of his.
He never seemed to be on long enough to suit me--and, when he appeared, I got really close to the TV and kissed the screen over and over.
It wasn't that I'd ever thought along the lines of, "I've found Mr. Right, and he's on Shindig!" because I also had a boyfriend in my class at school named Benny whom I knew I would marry when I got older and have a string of kids with--not that this actually ended up happening.
Anyway, for some reason, I just got to thinking about Billy Preston late last night and wondered how he was doing.
I'd heard that his mom had passed away--as it turned out, almost exactly a year after my dad with her being a year older at the time, meaning that the two of them must have both been born in 1917.
Anyway, I began to read about him here and there via Google searches and, finally, arrived here--and the rest is history.
No! Not exactly right!
There were those years in between now and when I was that ga-ga pre-teen.
I guess I'd always imagined that Billy Preston would have that unique Beatle hairstyle when he was 90 or 100--but, of course, I'd imagined that the Beatles would be singing together when they were old and gray, as well, and that John and Cynthia would always be a couple.
But time changes things!
How would I have even imagined back then that Ringo would look so dashing in a crewcut and goatee or that both John and George would grow their hair far longer than Beatle-bob length?
But they did, and it looked really good on them--as does Paul's more feathered version of the original hairstyle.
And Billy Preston looked wonderful in his big, full Afro--the style that he was wearing back when his significant role with The Beatles was made public and he was making a name for himself with hits of his own.
And he looks wonderful now at nearly sixty years old in a shorter and more subdued haircut--not to mention that he's never lost that big, bright, beautiful, and heartmelting smile that shows the gap between his two front teeth!
I've just started finding out things about Billy that I didn't know before--such as about his being the one who penned other songs I've loved performed by other artists, including a favorite of mine by Joe Cocker: "You Are So Beautiful To Me."
And I only recently found out that this song was written by him as a loving tribute to his mother (during her earthly life rather than after she'd already passed on).
It turns out that his mother had also been quite accomplished when it came to keyboards (especially, organs) and that Billy had first begun to pick up the talent as young as three years old while sitting on her lap while she played.
I would love to see a picture of that!
Within the past 24 hours is the first time that I've seen a picture of Billy when he was younger than the mop-topped, grinning organist who had me covering the TV screen with my lip-prints back in 1965.
In this picture, he was, probably somewhere between 8 and 12 years old, and he's a real heartmelter there.
I can hardly wait to see even younger pictures than that--as well as being able to continue to see progressively-older pictures of this sweet and talented teddy bear for many years to come!