It was grandly called "Motown Studio A" (there was no other studio) but the musicians called that garage the "snake pit." More than 20,000 records were cut there. The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, Martha & The Vandellas, etc., etc. all backed up a core group of musicians known as The Funk Brothers. It was the Funk Brothers who created the Motown "sound."
When I toured the tiny studio, my tour guide, Eddie (he never told me his last name), mentioned the instruments were all originals except the piano, which was a loaner. He went on to explain that Paul McCartney had toured the studio last summer and wanted to play the piano. When told the piano was in such bad shape it was not playable, Paul volunteered to have it restored.
According to news stories the last few days, Steinway has finished with the piano. Here is the story from the Washington Post:
When the group arrived at Studio A — the famed Motown recording studio — McCartney found piano No. 3. This one, though, had a cover over the keys.
He was told it couldn’t be played due to deterioration, and McCartney moved on.
The next day, he called with an offer to have the damaged 1877 Steinway grand fully restored.
More than a year later, that process has been completed.
The restored 9-foot Victorian rosewood will have its coming-out party at a Sept. 18 charity event in New York City before returning to its home on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit.
McCartney and Motown founder Berry Gordy will play the piano at the New York event, dubbed “Project: Harmony,” said Motown Museum Board of Trustees Chairwoman Robin Terry, Gordy’s grandniece. The event will benefit the Motown Museum.The Motown Museum is the two building complex that housed Motown Records in its glory days. It does a wonderful job of explaining the how Barry Gordy brought his dream of black musicians making music that appealed to all Americans a reality.
I'm so very glad that, in addition to the piano restoration, there is a benefit to put the museum on a solid financial foundation.
Well done, Sir Paul!
While I recommended it in the original post I'd like to do it again: if you enjoy Motown music, please purchase or rent a copy of Standing in the Shadows of Motown the award-winning and highly entertaining documentary about how the "Motown sound" came to be.