Billy Preston – My Sweet Lord

30th January 1971 · 1970s, 1971, Music
This song was the first No.1 of 1971, and the first chart-topper by a solo Beatle – in the better known version by George Harrison.

What I didn’t know, as it wormed its way into my ears and memory that winter (and never knew ’til now) was that he wrote it for Billy Preston.
I’ve never seen or heard this version before: while Harrison wrote the song in praise of the Hindu god Krishna, Billy really brings out the Christian gospel flavour – and fervour – of a revival church meeting; aptly for me, since

Mickey Bee once took me to an Evangelical service in South Central LA where Billy Preston was the church organist.
Originally recorded for Preston’s second album (produced by Harrison) with the Temptations’ backing band, this was (I think) Billy Preston’s last ever live performance, in LA in 2005. It was staged to promote a re-release of the Concert for Bangladesh film when he was in failing health following a kidney transplant… not that you’d know it from his exuberant performance.
Being an unofficial member of both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Billy was able to assemble quite a decent backing band, including Eric Clapton (content to just strum an acoustic guitar), Paul McCartney (sitting at a piano at the back) Jeff Lynne, Ringo Starr and Dhani Harrison.