McCartney and Gordy Introduce Motown's New Steinway With "Money"
One of Motown’s prized musical instruments -- a nine-foot 1877 Steinway grand piano -- made its debut at a charitable event to benefit the Motown Museum at Steinway Hall in New York City Tuesday evening.
Motown founder Berry Gordy and Paul McCartney played the piano for the first time following its extensive restoration.
With 100 patrons of the Motown Museum in attendance, guests had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear McCartney share with the audience why he was moved to support the restoration of this piano—one of the many instruments that helped create the legendary Motown Sound—following a visit to Motown Museum in July 2011, when he was in town for a concert.
McCartney and Gordy unveiled the piano together by removing a covering with the Steinway & Sons emblem, with Paul McCartney saying to Berry Gordy, “I think you should kick it off, it’s your piano.”
Following the unveiling, the two played an electrifying rendition of Motown’s 1959 first hit record “Money (That’s What I Want),” written by Gordy and subsequently covered by The Beatles.
Gordy started the song and then graciously asked McCartney to take over. McCartney then continued his performance by playing “My Valentine” followed by “Lady Madonna” and “Hey Jude.”
“We were wandering around Studio A inside Motown Museum, when I saw this piano I thought, I can’t come to Motown and not tinker on it," McCartney said.
"Once I realized it was unplayable, I called Steinway & Sons and they also realized…this piano was part of a major moment in history. And, now people in the future will record on it and keep the legacy of Motown alive.”
McCartney said growing up in Liverpool he started to get a feel for American music.
“And, suddenly it all changed—there was this sound we never heard before. So we bought the records like everyone else, we learned them.”
He continued, “When I went to Detroit last year, for me the Museum was such a special place where this music was made. If you are in Detroit you must go and see it—its history—that’s what it is.”
Gordy told a story about the day he heard the Beatles wanted to use three Motown songs on one of their albums.
“That was the day Motown truly went international, thanks to The Beatles,” said Gordy. “It is amazing to me how music continues to bring people together. Paul and I grew up thousands of miles apart and here we are united in music.”
Gordy told McCartney, “I am so proud to stand next to you tonight.”
“You are a dear friend who was the catalyst for this evening because of your love and appreciation of Motown.”
Following McCartney and Gordy’s performance, singer/songwriter Michael Bolton and Motown star Valerie Simpson performed a powerful rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Avid Detroit supporter Kid Rock was also in attendance.
“My childhood was greatly influenced by Motown,” said Bolton. “Listening to Paul McCartney talk about the influence of Motown tonight speaks to its magnificence and impact.”
The piano soon will make its final journey home to Detroit, where it will be put back on exhibit in Studio A inside the Motown Museum. Plans are still being finalized for the arrival of the instrument in late fall, when the museum plans to utilize the newly restored piano in future performance and educational events.
Built in 1877, the Victorian rosewood piano first made its way to Motown when the studio acquired Golden World Records in 1967. This facility was redubbed Motown Studio B and was used by the stable of Motown artists, musicians and songwriters to create more music by the likes of Marvin Gaye, Earl Van Dyke of the original Funk Brothers, Stevie Wonder and Edwin Starr, to name a few.
Patrons of this exclusive event showed their support for Motown Museum and the importance of this cultural gem with their own individual contributions of $10,000, following the lead of McCartney and Steinway & Sons’ generosity.
The media was not allowed into Tuesday's event. This account was prepared from a press release.