Colts CEO Jim Irsay Buys Elton John's Historic 'Live Aid' Grand Piano
By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta
July 19, 2021
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has acquired another incredible piece of rock and roll history at auction, winning a Steinway grand piano owned by Sir Elton John and used during more than 1,000 concerts worldwide between 1974 and 1993.
John has always been a generous and well-connected rocker and his old piano is that much more valuable for it. In addition to touring with the piano for decades, the Rocketman loaned the 1972 Steinway Model D Grand out to famous friends on a variety of occasions.
John Lennon used the piano during his final live concert performance in 1974 at Madison Square Garden. In 1977, Elton loaned the piano out to Freddie Mercury, who used it throughout Queen's A Day at the Races world tour.
After having the piano lacquered white, John himself played it during the 1985 Live Aid broadcast, which was viewed by 1.9 billion people. That same day, Sir Paul McCartney used the piano on "Let It Be," accompanied by David Bowie, U2, Pete Townshend, George Michael and others.
John toured exclusively with the piano until 1993, when he signed an endorsement deal with Yamaha.
Irsay is an avid fan of classic rock and a collector of musical memorabilia from the 20th century. Over the years, he's loaned pieces from his collection to museums and nonprofits for display and research, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and other organizations.
“When I started this collection, my goal was to preserve important pieces of American and world history so we could protect them and share them with future generations,” Irsay said in a press released. “Whether an instrument, an original manuscript or another piece of Americana, these items continue to be a source of inspiration and joy for so many. I am only a steward, so I want to make sure people from all walks of life are able to experience and learn from this array of artifacts.”
Two summers ago, Irsay dropped over $5 million at auction on gear owned by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, including a record $4 million price tag for Gilmour's iconic black Stratocaster.