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Paul McCartney funding restoration of historic Motown piano

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, October 31, 2011

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A 134-year-old grand piano is being picked up from the Motown Historical Museum on Monday (October 31) to be taken to Steinway & Sons' New York headquarters for restoration -- courtesy of Paul McCartney.

The former Beatle saw the piano, which was used on dozens of Motown hits, when he toured the museum on July 24, before his concert at Comerica Park. Dismayed to learn the instrument was no longer in working order, McCartney -- who referred to the museum as "the holy grail" during his concert and played Marvin Gaye's "Hitch Hike" in tribute -- offered to finance the restoration, which will be done by Steinway & Sons at its New York Headquarters.

The job is expected to take four to five months, and the piano should be back in Detroit in time for the museum's scheduled fundraising gala on March 30 at Orchestra Hall.

Ron Losby, Steinway's president for American operations, said that the company, "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. We're especially proud, as an American company, to help the Motown Museum in preserving the legacy of the Motown Record Company, whose artists and albums played such a vital role in one of the great eras of American Music."

Motown Museum CEO Audley Smith, Jr., added that, "The commitment from Paul McCartney and Steinway & Sons to restore this piano, one of the Museum's most important artifacts, is a wonderful acknowledgement...indeed, a donation of a perfect pitch."

The piano was used on hits such as Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Tracks of My Tears." It was retired after being played on sessions for the Commodores' "Machine Gun" album in 1972.

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