Preston Eugene Webber Sr., a Lexington lounge entertainer for more than 30 years, died Sunday night at the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
He was 70.
Mr. Webber grew up in Lynchburg, Va., where he sang in church and taught himself to play guitar at age 14. After high school and technical training in the Army, he came to Lexington in 1963 to work for an electronics firm.
He soon became involved in the local music scene and partnered with another musician, Pat Horine, for a two-year circuit playing Holiday Inns in Lexington and Ohio.
Mr. Webber then broke out on his own, and from 1966 to 1994 he was the main entertainer at Ramada Inn-North, Ramada Inn Imperial and Springs Inn. He also played Rupp Arena and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., among other venues.
Mr. Webber catered to his audience, memorizing regular customers' names and favorite songs, and often allowing someone in the crowd to play an instrument.
In 1995, Mr. Webber was diagnosed with tongue cancer.
Surgeons removed three-fourths of his tongue, leaving him barely able to talk, much less sing.
"I had so many great years, getting paid to do what I loved," Mr. Webber told the Herald-Leader in 2004.
"I think that has made the bad years a little easier to take."
Mr. Webber is survived by a son, Preston E. Webber Jr. of Lexington; a daughter, Leianne Webber Ball of Lexington; five grandchildren; and three siblings in Lynchburg. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Lagina Lynn Webber.
Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Harrodsburg Road. Services will be at noon Thursday at the funeral home.