Historic Motown Steinway piano back in Detroit

'Hitsville USA,' the Motown Museum in Detroit.

‘Hitsville USA,’ the Motown Museum in Detroit.

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 were to deliver the 9-foot, Victorian rosewood to the “Hitsville, U.S.A,” building Monday, Motown Historical Museum board chair Robin Terry said in a news release first obtained by The Associated Press.

McCartney 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.

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 piano now will go back on display at the Motown museum’s famed Studio A in the “Hitsville, U.S.A.,” building. 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,” Terry 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.”

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.


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