Billy Preston – Nothing From Nothing

Billy Preston played with and toured with a lot of artists. Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, Little Richard, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and more. He had 17 songs in the Billboard 100, six top ten hits, and three number 1’s… One of the #1’s was with the Beatles with Get Back.

This song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1974. Preston performed this song on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live. He and Janis Ian were the musical guests on the October 11, 1975 debut.

From Songfacts

Preston started writing this one night in the dressing room of an Atlanta nightclub where he was performing. He wanted to write a song based on the saying, “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.”

“The saloon piano gave it character,” Preston explained, “and I had a feeling it would be a hit because it was a sing-a-long kind of thing.”

Bruce Fisher, who was Preston’s songwriting partner (he co-wrote his previous American chart-topper, “Will It Go Round In Circles”), added a second verse.

The B-side of the single was another song Preston wrote with Fisher: “You Are So Beautiful,” which was later a hit for Joe Cocker.

Preston started off at the age of 10 playing keyboards for gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. Later he joined Ray Charles’ touring band before recording with The Beatles on several of their tracks including “Get Back” and “Let It Be” (The Beatles considered him to be the fifth Beatle). He also played on a number of Sly & The Family Stone recordings. Preston went on to have a successful solo career with five Top 10 US hits. In 1997 he was sent to prison on drug charges. He died in 2006 at age 59.

In the US, this was used in a TV commercial for Fidelity Investments. >>

This was used in several movies, including the 1995 thriller To Die For, starring Nicole Kidman, the 2003 comedy Elf, starring Will Ferrell, the 2008 comedy Be Kind Rewind, starring Jack Black and Mos Def, and the 2011 comedy Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake.

Nothing from Nothing

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me
Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me

I’m not tryin’ to be your hero
‘Cause that zero is too cold for me, Brrr
I’m not tryin’ to be your highness
‘Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
And I’m not stuffin’, believe you me
Don’t you remember I told ya
I’m a soldier in the war on poverty, yeah
Yes, I am

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me
Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me

You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me
You gotta bring me somethin’ girl, if you want to be with me

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

15 thoughts on “Billy Preston – Nothing From Nothing”

    1. He seemed like a great guy in interviews. He was only 16 when he was in Germany playing for Little Richard and meeting the Beatles…just way to early you are right.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Great tune! Here’s an entirely hypothetical question, completely impossible to be answered absolutely… IF the Beatles had soldiered on after 1969, do you think they would have made Preston a real member, or used him as a credited session musician helping write more of their material, or none of the above?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lennon wanted to add him as a member but McCartney said no…but Lennon was known to do rash things.
      I think they would have used him…not as a member though. They were so well known as the four of them….if they would have toured he probably would have played like he did with the Stones.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. He was an amazing singer and songwriter. Everything I saw or heard of his was good. I will remember him as part of the ensemble at George’s Concert for Bangladesh. I’m sure he’s playing in heaven right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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