Money can’t buy you love, but it goes a long way in restoring a historic piano. And that’s exactly what will happen with Motown’s historic 1877 Steinway grand piano, thanks to Paul McCartney.
The former Beatle visited the Motown Historical Museum for the first time this past July, the afternoon before his concert aterica Park. He was most excited to visit Studio A, where so many of his favorite Motown hits were recorded.
Museum staff recalled how impatient McCartney was to get to the studio, where Motown’s famed Funk Brothers played behind Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations and so many of the label’s stars. Early in their career, the Beatles recorded their own version of “Money” and many other Motown hits.
Though McCartney knew the museum frowns on anyone touching the instruments, he said he had to at least touch a few of the keyboards. But he couldn’t noodle a few notes of “Pride and Joy” or “Money” on the Steinway that was used by Motown musicians from 1960-72.
“He was disappointed when we told him it didn’t play,” said Audley Smith Jr., CEO of the museum.
Later that evening, McCartney told hiserica Park audience: “When I visited the Motown museum, I remembered listening to records as a kid in Liverpool, learning the songs ‘You Really Got a Hold on Me’ (by the Miracles) and ‘Money’ (by Barrett Strong). I said to myself, ‘Wow, this is the Holy Grail!’”
McCartney told the museum the day after his concert that he wanted to help restore the piano, but the logistics took a while to firm up.
The piano will be picked up at 10 a.m. Monday and shipped to Steinway & Sons’ New York headquarters, where it will take four to five months to have it professionally restored.
Until Steinway assesses the piano, it’s unknown how much restoration will cost, but thanks to McCartney, it’s not a worry. Steinway won’t change anything on the outside of the historic piano; it’s the guts of the instrument that will be restored, according to Smith.
“Steinway & Sons is honored to restore the historic Steinway piano that was used by such legends as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder — and to do so in the very same New York factory where it was originally built in 1877,” said Ron Losby, president of Americas, Steinway & Sons, in a statement. “We’re especially proud, as an Americanpany, to help the Motown Museum in preserving the legacy of the Motown Recordpany, whose artists and albums played such a vital role in one of the great eras of American music.”