Wednesday, June 19, 2024

New Rock Hall Inductee Billy Preston Died 15 Years Ago Today, His Estate is Still Not Settled


The great keyboardist, musician Billy Preston died 15 years ago today. His estate is still not settled.

Preston, known as the actual Fifth Beatle for his work on the Fab Four’s records, was recently announced as a new inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He will be inducted in Cleveland this October.

Billy, who I knew, lapsed into a coma in November 2005 after a botched medical situation and died the following June. He’d made it clear that his remaining relatives, and those who claimed to be relatives, were to have nothing to do with his estate.

Every year on this date I write this story. At one point, in 2016, it seemed like this might be all over. But when scoundrels are involved, there is no end to the skullduggery.

Billy’s family actually opened a probate claim on him three days before he died. That’s much how much they wanted to see him dead. Probates are generally opened only after someone has passed. If it worked the other way, anyone could file a probate claim on a living person with the reasoning “they didn’t look so good when I saw them.”


So the estate case has dragged on and on for one and a half decades, disgracefully. A woman claiming to be Billy’s half sister, whom no one had ever met before he died, continues to slug it out with his actual estate. She has no birth certificate or anything else proving her claim. But on and on this goes.

Still, Billy’s music lives on. The hits “Will it Go Round in Circles” and “Nothing from Nothing” are heard on the radio constantly. The song he co-wrote, “You Are So Beautiful,” is a classic. In August we’ll be seeing him in Peter Jackson’s documentary about the Beatles, “Get Back,” from the “Let it Be” sessions.

Maybe the courts will finally give Billy some peace this year.

Here’s a copy of that probate claim made on June 3, 2006 — three days before he died, by Billy’s family. Will it go round in circles? So far, yes.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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