Billy Preston

Outa-Space

Composed by Joe Greene / Billy Preston

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 Universal Special Products 4:10
No Image 1972
Various Artists
A&M 4:08
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
Non-Stop Funk, Vol. 3 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 4:08
Muppets from Space [Soundtrack] 1999
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution 4:09
The Funk Box 2000
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:10
Can You Dig It? The '70s Soul Experience 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 4:09
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Rebound Records
Love Funk, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:10
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
Seventies Hit Collection 2004
Various Artists
United Audio Entertainment 6:27
Ultimate 16: Funk Masters 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 4:10
Soul Power Instrumentals 2006
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:12
The Greatest Funk Hits of All Time 2006
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 4:09
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
Old School Gold Box Set
Various Artists
Thump Records 4:08