Billy Preston

Outa-Space

Composed by Billy Preston / Joe Greene

Song Review by

Billy Preston started playing piano at age three. Like his mother, he played behind the Voices of Victory at the Victory Baptist Church in Los Angeles. At age 10, while accompanying a visiting Mahalia Jackson, a movie producer spotted Preston and cast him as a young W.C. Handy in the film St. Louis Blues. At 15, he was signed to Sam Cooke's SAR label and toured England with Cooke and Little Richard in 1962. While in the U.K., he met the Beatles who invited him to play on their single "Get Back." In 1969, he signed with the group's Apple label, recording two albums. When Apple folded, Preston signed with A&M Records. During the recording of his label debut, I Wrote a Simple Song, he rented a clavinet. It was his first experience with the keyboard instrument. He ran the clavinet's sound through a wah-wah pedal and began to improvise a groove while calling out chord changes to the band. Preston later added organ and handclaps to the track. Because of its spacy sound, he called the instrumental "Outa Space." Preston felt it was a hit, but A&M was leery and issued it as the B-side of "I Wrote a Simple Song." A radio DJ flipped the single over and began playing "Outa Space" and the track took off, selling more than a million copies and going to number one R&B and number two pop in the summer of 1972.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
I Wrote a Simple Song 1971 A&M / Universal 4:11
No Image 1972
Various Artists
A&M 4:08
Live European Tour 1974 Universal 3:55
The Best of Billy Preston [A&M] 1988 A&M 4:09
No Image 1992 Castle Music Ltd.
Rock Instrumental Classics, Vol. 3: The Seventies 1994
Various Artists
Rhino 4:12
Billboard Hot Soul Hits: 1972 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 4:10
Rock Instrumental Classics, Vols. 1-5 1995
Various Artists
Rhino/Warner Bros. 4:12
Soul Classics: Best of the 70's 1998
Various Artists
Rebound Records 4:12
Non-Stop Funk, Vol. 3 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 4:08
Muppets from Space [Soundtrack] 1999
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution 4:09
Ultimate Collection 2000 Hip-O 4:10
The Funk Box 2000
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:10
Funked!, Vol. 1: 1970-1973 2001
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Debutante / Universal 4:10
Can You Dig It? The '70s Soul Experience 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 4:09
Soul Classics [MCA Special Products] 2001
Various Artists
Rebound Records 4:12
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Billy Preston 2002 A&M 4:09
Ultimate Funk [Madacy] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 4:10
Remember the 70's: Greatest Hits Live 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Seventies Hit Collection 2004
Various Artists
United Audio Entertainment 6:27
Funk Gold 2005
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:10
Ultimate 16: Funk Masters 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 4:10
Classic Soul Hits! [Direct Source 2005] 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source Special 3:43
Soul Power Instrumentals 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:12
'70s Soul Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:10
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Universal 4:14
30 #1 Party Hits 2006
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:43
Get Your Groove on: Funky Dance Party 2006
Various Artists
St. Clair 6:27
The Greatest R&B Hits of All Time 2006
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 4:09
Essential Playlist: 20 Non-Stop Hits! 70s 2007
Various Artists
Madacy 4:06
Ultimate Hits: Best of the '70s 2007
Various Artists
Madacy 4:06
Greatest #1 R&B Hits 2007
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:42
Old School, Vol. 10 2008
Various Artists
Thump Records 4:08
I Wrote a Simple Song/Music Is My Life 2010 Beat Goes On 4:13
Decades of Hits 2010
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group / Columbia River Group 6:26
Slow Ride 2012
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group / Columbia River Group 6:28
Sweet Soul Music: 1972 2014
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 4:10
Old School Gold Box Set
Various Artists
Thump Records 4:08
blue highlight denotes editor's pick