Release Date

January 1, 1971

“Outa-Space” is an instrumental recorded by Billy Preston that originally appeared on his 1971 A&M Records-debut album, I Wrote a Simple Song. To create the primary instrumental sound, Preston played a clavinet through a wah wah pedal. The song was created by Preston improvising while calling out chord changes to the backing band. He later added organ and hand claps. Preston named the song “Outa-Space” for the instrumental’s spacy sound.

While he thought it would be a hit, A&M was skeptical and issued it as the B-side of “I Wrote a Simple Song” in December 1971. However, radio DJs began flipping the single and, while “I Wrote a Simple Song” only reached #77 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Outa-Space” peaked at #2, showing that Preston’s feelings about it were correct.