Elvis Presley Piano To Return To Graceland Music Room
The King’s piano is headed back home. Elvis Presley’s Graceland announced that it reacquired the original baby grand Knabe piano that was part of the singer’s home in the 1950s and 1960s, and will place it on display in December. Graceland officials are calling the instrument’s return the most “significant piece of original furnishings to come home … since the Mansion opened for tours in 1982.”
The piano had been up for auction on eBay last month via Bang the Gavel Auction Services of California. Graceland officials would not confirm the purchase price or other details of the transaction.
The Presley-customized Knabe will be the centerpiece of a planned restoration of the music room at Graceland, which will be returned to its classic '60s-era appearance. Other items returning to the music room include a set of original white and blue draperies and a gold couch from 1964.
The piano has a rich Memphis and musical history. Prior to Elvis' purchase of the instrument — built in 1912 by Wm. Knabe & Co. of Gallatin, Tennessee — it was the house piano at the Ellis Auditorium from the early 1930s until 1957. During that time, the auditorium played host to top acts including W. C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Cab Calloway, among others. Presley wanted the piano in part because he saw it played by his blues and gospel heroes in concert as a boy.
Boosted by his explosive success in 1957, Presley purchased his Graceland mansion that spring. The Ellis piano came up for sale a month later, and Presley sought out the instrument, purchasing it from Jack Marshall Pianos-Organs for $818.85. Elvis refurbished and customized the piano, resulting in its white and gold appearance, and accompanying gold and white leather bench.
In 1968, Elvis’ wife Priscilla Presley purchased him a new gold leaf piano (that instrument sold at auction in 2015 to the Hard Rock Café chain for $600,000). The Knabe was then put in storage, where it remained for the better part of a decade.
In 1976, it was sold Ted Sturges, owner of the Sturges Recording Studio in Memphis and used on a number of recordings there (and was reportedly a favorite of Presley’s fellow rock icon, Jerry Lee Lewis). The piano would change hands several more times over the years before coming up for sale again this summer.
SOURCE: Commercial Appeal