Welcome To AlbumLinerNotes.com
"The #1 Archive of Liner Notes in the World!"

Celebrating Our Shared Musical Heritage

That's The Way God

To purchase this recording from Amazon.com, click here: That's The Way God Planned It

Billy Preston
That’s The Way God Planned It

Apple Records


(Billy Preston)

(Billy Preston)

(Billy Preston, Doris Troy)

(Bob Dylan)

(Billy Preston)

6. MORNING STAR (3:16)
(W.C. Handy, Mack David)
String arrangement by John Barham

7. HEY BROTHER (2:32)
(Jesse Kirkland, Billy Preston)
Produced by Wayne Schuler

(Billy Preston)

(Billy Preston, Doris Troy)

10. THIS IS IT (2:43)
(Billy Preston, Doris Troy)

(Billy Preston)
Produced by Wayne Schuler

(Billy Preston)


Produced by Wayne Schuler

14. AS I GET OLDER (3:43)
(Billy Preston, Sylvester Stewart)
Produced by Ray Charles

15. THAT'S THE WAY GOD PLANNED IT (Alternative Version) (4:12)
(Billy Preston)


(Billy Preston, Arthur Fullilove, Melvin Ray Jernigan)  

Produced by George Harrison, except as indicated
All titles recorded at Abbey Road and Olympic Studios, London & Capitol Studios, Los Angeles.

Original album Remix engineer: Glyn Johns


All titles published by Apple Publishing Ltd. except 4, Sony Music Publishing, 6, Francis Day and Hunter Ltd., 12, 15 EMI Music Publishing Ltd., 13, Copyright Control, 16, Kassner Associated Publishers Through Tangerine Music Corp.

Originally released as SAPCOR 9


Album re-mastered by Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Paul Hicks
Abbey Road Project Coordinator: Allan Rouse
Audio Restoration: Simon Gibson

Album Reissue Producers: Andy Davis, Mike Heatley
Notes by Andy Davis

Thanks to Joyce Moore & Laura Gross
EMI Project Manager: Guy Hayden

Tea, sympathy and guidance
Jeff Jones, Jonathan Clyde & Garth Tweedale
Album Re-design: Darren Evans

Apple archive management: Aaron Bremner
Photo research: Carl Bigmore, Dorcas Lynn & Andy Davis

All tracks Digital Remaster ® 2010 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Umlaut Corporation under exclusive licence to EMI Records Ltd. Except 16 ® 2010 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Umlaut Corporation under exclusive licence to EMI Records Ltd.
© 2010 this label copy information is subject to copyright protection.

Artwork © 2010 Apple Corps Ltd.

All Photographs © Apple Corps Ltd.


Billy Preston inspired love and admiration everywhere; people just adored him. If ever a musician became his music it was Billy. He had the funk from his feet to his fingertips. He was truly gifted, a child prodigy born to play. He had a wonderful singing voice too, full of soul. As a dancer, his gospel strutting was electric, organically choreographed, just exploding with energy and passion.

Billy played the organ and the electric piano for fellow artists twice as famous and sometimes twice as old as himself. His session work is so celebrated that it can overshadow his own music.  Hopefully, this reissue, and that of his second album for Apple Records, Encouraging Words, will help redress the balance …

Billy had always sung, but until he signed to Apple for That's The Way God Planned It, released in the UK in August 1969, most of his output had been instrumental. By this time, Billy was a flourishing songwriter, creating tight funky melodies and deep soulful ballads, always with direct informal lyrics. He was 22 years old, and it had taken him over a decade to reach this point. His apprenticeship had been a long one.

Billy drew the attention of the greats as a child. At age 10, he played behind gospel queen Mahalia Jackson, and at 11 he duetted with Nat 'King' Cole on US TV. At 15 he played organ for Little Richard and Sam Cooke, and then for his hero Ray Charles. His instinctive playing graced key works by The Beatles and later The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. Plenty more too.

Billy couldn't help but fall in with the famous, although it was never something he courted. His first album, Sixteen Year Old Soul, came out in the States in 1963 on Derby Records, a label owned by Sam Cooke. "I've never asked anybody to help me or give me a break," Billy said in 1975. "Whatever I don't have now I believe will eventually come. Why? I have to say it's God ... the God in me". This belief is the lyrical thrust of his classic Apple single 'That's The Way God Planned It'.

One such divine plan began in Germany in 1962. Billy skipped school to join a Little Richard tour of Europe, which that November took up a two-week residency at the Star-Club, Hamburg. On the same bill were The Beatles. Back home they'd just released 'Love Me Do'; and like Billy, they too were fervent fans of Little Richard. Speaking in 1975, John Lennon recalled being in close proximity to Richard and Gene Vincent at The Star-Club: "It's hard for people to imagine just how thrilled we, the four of us, were to even see any great rock 'n' roller in the flesh and we were almost paralysed with adoration for both of them, and the side show was that Little Richard's organist was Billy Preston. He looked about 10 then."

It was here that The Beatles and Billy became firm friends, as Billy remembered later: "They used to come backstage and ask a lot of questions about Little Richard and America and we would jam some in the rehearsals. That's how we got tight". It was mutual admiration from the start. The Star-Club revue featured an extensive lineup, but as Billy admitted: "I only watched The Beatles." He added: "They were never predictable ... They used to dedicate 'A Taste Of Honey' and 'Love Me Do' to me, as they were my favourite numbers".

Fast forward to 1969, and Billy was in London playing organ for Ray Charles. George Harrison caught Ray's show at the Royal Festival Hall and spotted someone he recognized in the band. George said in The Beatles Anthology book:

"I thought, 'That guy looks familiar,' but he seemed bigger than I remembered ... I thought, 'It's Billy!' Since we had last seen him in Hamburg in 1962, when he was just a little lad, he had grown to be six foot tall".

George put out the word to get in touch with Billy, and coincidentally, Billy had decided to catch up with his old friends at the same time. He phoned Apple, and was invited along to 3 Savile Row. As Apple's Derek Taylor wrote in a press release for Billy: "An hour later The Beatles are recording a song called 'Get Back'. Paul McCartney, bearded and hair brushed back in unconscious awareness of a pre-moptop era, turns to Billy ... who has just arrived, and extended an invitation to join in on the piano…’.

Those sessions were not the most relaxed that the Beatles had ever held, but Billy's sudden presence, his natural ebullience and his instinctive effortless playing quickly enlivened the proceedings. Said Paul in The Beatles Anthology: "Billy was brilliant - a little young whizz-kid. We'd always get on very well with him. He showed up in London and we all said 'Oh, Bill! Great - Let's have him play on a few things'. So he started sitting in on the sessions, because he is an old mate really".

Speaking in 2003, Ringo said: "Well, Billy was, and still is, the most incredible musician. That we also knew him helped, but he just plays the right thing. Billy knows what to play and - he always has. We met him when he was 16, 17, with Little Richard, but it really enhances the track what Billy does because it's not only great, it's not busy ... So thank you Billy for all your help".

After assisting his friends on 'Get Back', and on 'Don't Let Me Down', Billy remained at The Beatles' sessions - originally for the Get Back album, which became Let It Be, and which decade later became Let It Be ... Naked. He also joined the mammoth recordings that yielded 'Something' and 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' for Abbey Road. The Beatles even discussed adding him to their line up full-time. That didn't happen of course, although in essence it actually did for a while: "They made me feel like a member of the band," Billy remembered later. For what turned out to be their last ever live performance, Billy was indeed the Fifth Beatle. "Musically, my favourite moment was on the (Apple) roof for Let It Be," he said. The real seal of approval carne when 'Get Back' was issued as a single in April 1969. The label carried the unprecedented credit, 'The Beatles with Billy Preston'.

Billy was offered a contract with Apple Records. "I said yeah, but I'm on Capitol, so the next day they said you're now on Apple, just like that."

It was a watershed moment: "That was my first chance to produce and to do my songs," said Billy, "and also to sing because in the beginning I was an instrumentalist."

Three unreleased tracks from his Capitol sessions, recorded in Los Angeles with producer Wayne Schuler, were included on That's The Way God Planned It: the soulful 'I Want To Thank You', the wisely-worded groover 'Keep It To Yourself', and 'Hey Brother'. Versions of several others, including 'Do What You Want', 'I Want To Thank You', 'It Doesn't Matter' and 'What About You?' had also been recorded at Capitol, but were remade from scratch for Apple.

New sessions for Billy's songs – held at Abbey Road and at Olympic in Barnes, south west London – began as soon as George's commitment to the Get Back / Let It Be project was over. By mid February 1969, a batch of new songs was complete; three of these, 'Encouraging Words', 'Right Now', and 'Sing One For The Lord', a unique Harrison-Preston songwriting collaboration, would be held over for Billy's second Apple LP.

For That's The Way ... George Harrison was officially in charge of production, but it was a loose arrange.ment, as Billy stated in his Apple bio: "We work together and it's a beautiful combination. Usually he just wants to be out there playing all the time."

Derek Taylor, Apple's press officer, visited Billy just after the London sessions began. He wrote: "Preston's hotel room has been quiet until now. He moves over to the record player and plays an acetate of himself jamming with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Keith Richards and George Harrison. Says Billy: 'They're all playing on the album I'm making; and Madeline Bell and Doris Troy are doing the backing vocals'."

That album is this album, That's The Way God Planned It, remastered in 2010 and boasting a never-before-heard bonus track.

All but two of the 12 songs on the album are Billy Preston originals, and three of them were written in collaboration with Doris Troy: the feel-good 'Everything's Alright' was a issued as the follow-up single to 'That's The Way God Planned It' in October 1969; 'Let's All Get Together Right Now' is a universally-themed anthem that could have come from the mighty pen of Ray Charles; while the lyrics to 'This Is It' read as if they were an entry from Billy's I969 diary: "I've made it!". (After George heard Doris' spirited backing vocals at these sessions, he offered her a deal with Apple too.)

The two cover versions on the album are Bob Dylan's bittersweet 'She Belongs To Me', and 'Morning Star', by 'father of the blues' W.C. Handy. Billy played the role of Handy as a child in the 1958 film St. Louis Blues, while Nat 'King' Cole played Handy as an adult and sang 'Morning Star' on screen and on the soundtrack album.

The full force of Billy's musical prowess was brought out by George Harrison the producer on this album. Witness, in particular, Billy's powerhouse performances on 'What About You', 'It Doesn't Matter', and the opener 'Do What You Want', which features Eric Clapton on lead guitar; Eric also plays on the title track. (Billy went on to re-make (Do What You Want' for his self-titled 1976 album on A&M Records.)

When issued as a single, 'That's The Way God Planned It' became Billy's breakthrough hit in Britain, reaching No. 11 in July I969. It had been a long road up to this point. But it was also just the beginning.

As Billy said in 1986: "Everything that's happened to me has been the way God's planned it 'cos I never auditioned, I never worked any other job but music and people would call me to play with them. I never like begged or asked, you know, and I feel it was a blessing. And this is the way God planned it."

Andy Davis



'Through All Times' was recorded at Capitol Records with Wayne Schuler producing. The instrumental 'As I Get Older' was co-written with Sylvester 'Sly Stone' Stewart, produced by Ray Charles, and was issued as the B-side to 'All That I've Got (I'm Gonna Give It To You)', Billy's third Apple single (Apple 21), in January 1970. The alternative version of ' That's The Way God Planned It' dates from the sessions at Olympic Studios in March 1969.

The previously unreleased 'Something's Got To Change' was written by Billy Preston with Arthut Fullilove and Melvin Ray Jernigan, and was first recorded by Ray Charles in I967. Billy's version dates from early 1970 and was produced by Billy and George Harrison.


Original Liner Notes

Billy Preston is the best thing to happen to Apple this year. He’s young and beautiful and kind and he sings and plays like the son of God. Born in Houston, Texas and raised in Los Angeles, Billy discovered the piano at three and started playing organ at six. His mother played in the church choir, and this gospel background influenced him until much later in life. At ten, Billy made his film debut. “I played in a movie with Nat ‘King’ Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey. Nat was playing W.C. Handy the New Orleans Musician and I played him as a little boy. The movie was called ‘St. Louis Blues’.”

“When I did a tour in 1962 with Little Richard – we kicked off in England doing shows with Sam Cooke – that was the first time I’d played rock ‘n’ roll. Up to then, I’d been playing only gospel music, and Richard thought it was to be a gospel tour. But everyone wanted the old rock ‘n’ roll bit and so we played it,” he says. “I joined James Cleveland who works with choirs and groups. He’s sort of the Ray Charles of gospel.”

“Later I formed my own group and we did mostly Ray Charles numbers. Then I met him at the ‘Shindig’ T.V. show in California where I was standing in for him during rehearsals. After the actual performance, is sang ‘Georgia’ for him and a couple of days later he called me and we joined up.”

Preston played on many Ray Charles singles including ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’, ‘In The Heat of the Night’ and the LP ‘Cryin’ Time’ adding a new lead to his recording career that produced three solo Billy Preston albums ‘Sixteen Year Old Soul’, ‘The Wildest Organ Ever’ and ‘The Most Electrifying Organ Ever’.

Touring with the Ray Charles band, Billy had his own solo spot and Ray Charles would introduce him as ‘The Young man that anytime I leave this business I want him to take over what I started’.

With Charles, Billy toured America, Europe, and Australia and he finally brought him to England for a Television show with the band.

It was then he decided to telephone Apple.

And that was the beginning of some mammoth recording sessions with the Beatles which included his playing on their new album, as well as on ‘Get Back’.

“One day the Beatles said they’d like me on Apple”.

Doodling on a typewriter, Billy wrote:

“Music is my life and everyday I live it, and it’s a good life to everything I want to say through music it gets to you. I may not be the best around but I’m surely not the worst. I learned to play and sing since the age of three, you don’t know how glad I am God laid his hands on me. Apple is the Company for all people that know where it is at and love peach love joy and all mankind. I am very grateful to be a part of it. It won’t be long before we change the whole system that holds and keeps the artist’s mind messed up. All thanks must be given to the fab Beatles. People should realize that what they have gone through has not been in vain and they are using it to the best of their ability.”

That’s all. Just fill your heads with sounds.

Derek Taylor


Back to Billy Preston main page
Back to top

Website Builder