19 July 2021
By Ellie Palmer
The piano, which the popstar used during legendary shows at Dodger Stadium and Live Aid and on tour with Queen in 1977, was sold during a Heritage Auctions event in Texas
Sir Elton John's much loved Steinway Model D grand piano sold for a massive $915,000 over the weekend at an auction held in Texas.
Bidding opened on Saturday afternoon at $240,000. However, an aggressive bidding war quickly ensued between phone bidders while others bid through the internet. The piano set an auction house record as the most expensive musical instrument Heritage has ever sold.
Sir Elton signed the piano on the gilded cast-iron frame. In permanent black ink, he wrote, “Enjoy this as much as I have, Elton John.”
The piano was offered at auction by Curtis Schwartz, a long-time music engineer whose name can be found on albums by Siouxsie and the Banshees, Lush, Cutting Crew, the Bee Gees and Yes.
Indeed, this is the very Steinway seen in iconic photos of Sir Elton at Dodger Stadium during two sold-out gigs in October 1975, when he played to more than 100,000 people – including his parents.
Elton John and the Steinway grand piano, Dodge Stadium 1975. ©Terry O'Neill
It travelled the world – and even shared stages with two Beatles. Sir Elton played it that November 1974 night at Madison Square Garden when John Lennon showed up to pay off a bet and play three songs, among them their hit single “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.” It was Lennon’s final live show. And Paul McCartney used that very Steinway during “Let it Be,” the Live Aid finale witnessed by some billion viewers worldwide in 1985.
It had also been used by Freddie Mercury during Queen’s “A Day at the Races” tour in 1977. In fact, the piano is accompanied by an email from Peter Hince, Queen’s road manager at the time, in which he notes that the singer had been frustrated with the endless buffet of mediocre pianos that showed up on the road, and asked to borrow John’s for the ’77 tour.
An incredible story for an incredible piano.
Main image: ©Heritage Auctions