Historic Motown Steinway Piano Back in Detroit

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  • DETROIT (AP) — An 1877 Steinway grand piano used by Motown greats during the label’s 1960s heyday, and restored thanks to Paul McCartney, is back home in Detroit, officials announced Monday.

    Steinway technicians delivered the 9-foot Victorian rosewood to the “Hitsville, U.S.A,” building midday Monday and workers set it up in a former recording studio in what’s now the Motown Historical Museum.

    McCartney, a longtime fan of the Motown sound who played and recorded several of the label’s songs during the Beatles’ early days, told museum officials after a 2011 concert in Detroit that he wanted to help with the piano’s refurbishment after learning the historic instrument no longer could be played.

    During his museum tour, McCartney played a different piano bearing a sign that read, “Please do not touch.” He apologized and said he had to. When he came across the Steinway in Studio A, he found a cover on the keys, foiled not by a sign, but by deterioration that made the piano unplayable.

    Work on the piano was completed last August, and the ex-Beatle and Motown founder Berry Gordy played it together during a September charitable event at Steinway Hall in New York City.

    The instrument first made its way to Motown when the label acquired Golden World Records in 1967, a facility redubbed Motown Studio B and used by musicians and songwriters to create songs by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and other Motown greats.

    To celebrate the piano’s return, museum officials are inviting the public to visit Hitsville with free admission during Esther Gordy Edwards Community Day on April 25.

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