The Independent London Newspaper


£20,000 Highbury studios piano that was stars’ favourite goes up for auction


The Imperial Bösendorfer up for auction at Bonhams on December 15

Published: 2 December, 2016

IT would be the ideal Christmas present for any music lover. And if you have a cool £20,000, then this grand piano played on classic records by rock and pop icons Queen, Coldplay and Robbie Williams could be yours.

For more than 30 years the Imperial Bösendorfer sat in Highbury New Park’s Wessex Sound Studios, where some of music’s biggest names recorded hits.

Originally the hall for St Augustine’s Church, the studios were bought by legendary Beatles producer George Martin in the 1960s before closing down in 2003. The building is now flats.

The 1977 piano, which has a guide price of £20,000 to £30,000, is being sold at Bonhams on December 15 in an entertainment memorabilia auction.

The piano is being sold by Nigel Frieda – brother of hairdresser John – who owns Matrix Recording Studios in Fulham and Osea Island in the Blackwater Estuary, where the piano has been for the past few years.

He bought Wessex Studios in 1993 and ac­quired all the equip­ment inside. In an accom­panying letter, he states that Wessex chief engineer Bill Price recalls “an amusing story of an occasion when Queen and the Sex Pistols were both recording their albums simultaneously at Wessex and how Jonny Rotten decided to make a surprise appearance to meet Freddie Mercury while Freddie was actually playing the Bösendorfer”.

“Imperial Bösendorfer pianos have a unique sound quality and are the only concert pianos to cover a full eight octaves,” according to Bonhams. 


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