Fifth Beatle Documentary Will Put The Spotlight On Billy Preston

He was one of several individuals to earn the title of the "Fifth Beatle," and he was the only non-member ever to be credited on a Beatles recording. Now, he's getting the documentary treatment. The prolific pianist Billy Preston will be the subject of an upcoming untitled documentary feature from White Horse Pictures and Homegrown Pictures, according to Deadline.

Producer Stephanie Allain says of the project:

"A singular figure in music history, Billy Preston lent his genius to elevate the most celebrated artists of the 20th Century. Grateful to work with this team, using this soundtrack to explore his personal journey and finally place him front and center. The Billy Preston we know was an incomparable musician, but the Billy we'll see in this documentary was a mass of contradictions. I'm thrilled to dig deeper into the complex man under the Afro, and behind the famous smile."

Paris Barclay — a multi-Emmy-winning director, producer, and writer known for work on "In Treatment," "Glee," and "Sons of Anarchy" — will direct. He will also write the film alongside Cheo Hodari Coker, known for work on "Creed II," "Luke Cage," and "Ray Donovan."

The film will be produced by Homegrown's Stephanie Allain ("Hustle & Flow," "Dear White People," 2020 Oscars), White Horse's Jeanne Elfant Festa, ("Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart") and Nigel Sinclair ("Pavarotti, George Harrison: Living in the Material World"). Barclay, Daniel Shaw, G. Marq Roswell, Olivia Harrison, Jonathan Clyde, and White Horse Pictures' Nicholas Ferrall and Cassidy Hartmann will serve as executive producers on the project.

Billy Preston's Legacy Deserves to Be Documented

As a longtime Beatles lover, this announcement thrills me to no end. It's always really cool to get insight into the people who helped shape their sound — folks like Ravi Shankar, Chuck Berry, and Preston, to name a few — so this is a welcomed project that I hope shines a bright light on this man's talent and charisma.

The beloved musician was known for his appearance on The Beatles 1970 hit single "Get Back" off their final album "Let It Be," which was credited to "The Beatles with Billy Preston." That was a first for the group. He met The Beatles in 1962 while touring in Hamburg, Germany as part of Little Richard's band and they became fast friends, which led to their musical collaborations later that decade.

Preston went on to produce plenty of his own hits and even co-wrote the song "You Are So Beautiful," which made Joe Cocker famous. In his later years, Preston went on to win Grammy awards and collaborate with The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Sly Stone, Barbra Streisand, Ray Charles, and more.

In 2021, Preston was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Award for Music Excellence, which was presented by Ringo Starr. The accolade comes 15 years after his death in 2006.