If you do the math, it’s a zero sum game; nothing from nothing certainly leaves you with nothing. Preston co-wrote the song with songwriter, record producer, and playwright Bruce Fisher. They had previous charting success with their song “Will It Go Round in Circles.” In 1974, “Nothing from Nothing” was released on Preston’s album The Kids & Me. It was also released that year as a single, backed with “My Soul is a Witness.” (The album also contained another Preston-Fisher song “You Are So Beautiful,” which was a very successful cover for Joe Cocker in 1975.) “Nothing from Nothing” charted well internationally, rising to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 as well as #1 on Cash Box and Record World. It went to #3 in Canada and France.
A bit of trivia about this song is that Preston performed it on the first episode of the TV show Saturday Night Live on October 11, 1975. Preston and Janis Ian were the musical guests.
Preston began his musical career by playing keyboards for Mahalia Jackson. He played with Ray Charles and also joined The Beatles on several songs (e.g., “Get Back” and “Let It Be”). They considered him to be the fifth Beatle. Preston played on several recordings by Sly and The Family Stone. He had a successful solo career. Unfortunately, he a number of legal problems due to insurance fraud, cocaine, and sexual assault charges. He died at the age of 59 in 2006.