Billy Preston played the organ on the song “Let It Be” and the Fender Rhodes electric piano on “Get Back” and “Don’t Let Me Down” during the recording of the Let It Be album and film (earlier called Get Back). George Harrison brought Preston in to temporarily ease some of the tension in the studio during the tumultuous sessions. Also, the Beatles intended to record the tracks “live”, with no overdubbing, so it helped to have a fifth musician playing keyboards. At one point during the sessions, John Lennon suggested that Billy could join the band as the “Fifth Beatle”, but Paul McCartney nixed the idea saying that it was bad enough with four.

The “Get Back”/”Don’t Let Me Down” single was credited to “The Beatles with Billy Preston”. This was the only time an outsider was given this type of credit on an official Beatles-sanctioned release. Tony Sheridan had shared credit on some Hamburg-era recordings, but these were unsanctioned reissues on which the Beatles were primarily the backing group.

Preston also played Hammond organ on the tracks “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Something” that appeared on the Abbey Road album.

The Beatles first met Billy Preston in 1962 when he was part of Little Richard’s touring band. Manager Brian Epstein had organized a Liverpool show in which the Beatles opened for.

2 Responses to “Who played keyboards with the Beatles while recording Let It Be?”

  1. MikeG Says:

    I didn’t know all of that about Billy Preston. Now I want to see Let It Be again, lol. I love this site!!!

  2. zelig504 Says:

    I knew about the Let it Be sessions but was unaware that he played that great Hammond organ on Something. I’ve read the engineering notes to all The Beatles’ recording sessions and seemed to have overlooked that.

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