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.
“This piano is part of our treasured collection of historical artifacts that tell the Motown story,” Robin Terry, the museum’s board chair, said. “We are thrilled to welcome it back home to Detroit, where it will be used to educate local students about the legendary history created in their hometown and share the Motown story for generations to come.
“We’re happy to see our baby come home,” she told the AP.
The piano was brought back to professional recording quality, Terry said, with all of its internal components — soundboard, keys, hammers, pins and strings — restored. The piano’s case was left as is to preserve its authenticity, while the legs, which were not original, were replaced. While the original strings and hammers were worn beyond repair, they were retained and are being returned to the museum for exhibit.
Despite its condition upon arrival at the Steinway facility in New York, Terry said technicians described it as “one of the finest instruments they have ever worked on.” One technician listened to it “and said, ‘This piano can stand up to any concert piano anywhere,'” she said.
While historical preservation remains a priority at the museum, Terry said the restored instrument won’t be off-limits all the time — at least to special guests like McCartney who know their way around the ivories — but will need a couple weeks of readjusting to its environment.
“One of the lessons that we were learned in this process is that instruments like that have to be played,” said Terry, Berry Gordy’s grand-niece. “Our approach to the piano prior to that was not to play it and to protect it and preserve it. The truth is … it’s built to be played.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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