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Celebrity Stories

Below are just a few of the many interesting people I’ve met over the years.
Thousands of tunings, service calls, and piano sales for decades have given me many interesting experiences - I’ve been told I could write a book on it...

 

Tim Allen: Through a recommendation, Tim visited my Piano Warehouse as he was looking for a good quality piano for his home

(I remember him cracking jokes with me as I showed him different pianos). He chose a beautiful Kawai RX-1 baby grand that looked brand new and was just a few years old. At his request, I fitted a new QRS player system on the piano (hence he says “it plays” on the DVD that he kindly signed for me). Besides going to Tim’s home to tune the Kawai, I also went to his offices several times where I was shown a few of his custom cars from his private collection.

Adele: Adele writes beautiful songs and has an amazing voice!
In Sept. 2017, I received a call from her bodyguard saying he was standing outside my piano warehouse as Adele wanted to stop by to see pianos. I explained I wasn't there as I only meet clients by appointment. I then received a call from her assistant Laura saying Adele would still like to stop by and we made an appointment for a little later that day (Laura told me I was referred to Adele by 3 totally independent people, recording artist
Chris Martin, record producer Tom Hull aka Kid Harpoon, and her interior designer at Soho House).

For about an hour it was just Adele and I in my piano warehouse playing and talking about different pianos. After demonstrating several, she purchased a midi/acoustic Yamaha Silent System piano and a few days later we delivered it to her home.

Vanna White: Vanna (hostess of 'Wheel of Fortune'), is one of the nicest celebrity clients. I have been servicing her grand piano for approx.15 years and Vanna always calls me herself to make the appointments (including from Hawaii where they were filming).

Tom Jones: Being from South Wales myself, I always admired Sir Tom Jones as a great performer and singer.
My client Vanna White lived a few doors down from him and as she knew I was also from Wales, she offered to introduce me - sadly this never came about. However, one day while driving past Sir Tom’s house, his assistant Art was outside so I took the opportunity to stop and introduce myself.
Art invited me in to see and inspect the piano, unfortunately I never got to meet Sir Tom as he was out of town at the time.

Tracey Ullman: While working on Tracey’s Mason & Hamlin grand piano at her home, I remember Tracey bringing me "a cup of tea & biscuits" which I thought was very nice and a very British thing to do.

Rocketman: Tuning for Elton John’sRocketman’ press conference in Pacific Palisades.
 

Mini Piano
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Click Photo to view & read the story

about the Mini Piano

By coincidence, I also use to tune John Reid’s upright English 'Knight’ piano for many years

John was Elton’s longtime music manager and he mentioned to me how Elton gave him the piano

Pierce Brosnan: For several years I tuned Pierce’s piano in his Hollywood Hills home. He asked if I could give his son piano lessons.

Dennis Tito: Mr. Tito, the founder of the Wilshire 5000 Index, was the gentleman who paid $20 million to be the world’s first space traveler in 2001. He purchased a Steinway B grand piano through me for his estate in Pacific Palisades.

Chris Martin: Chris Martin is a great singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and over the last 10 years I’ve worked on more pianos for him than any of my other private individual clients (10 different pianos to date). I’ve worked for Chris (and Coldplay), since March 2013 when I originally rented him a piano for his home. Since then I’ve sold him 3 pianos - 2 Yamaha U3’s (one with a Silent System), and a beautiful restored/rebuilt vintage Steinway M parlor grand which is now at Stargate Studio in Venice, CA (songwriters/producers Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen).
To see the Steinway M, click on the link to the video that Apogee Electronics shot at Stargate.  Apogee/Stargate Video

By coincidence, legendary record producer Bob Clearmountain also bought a piano from me for Apogee Berkeley Street Studio and the music playing on the video, Sam Smith is another coincidence - I sold a new Kawai GL-10 baby grand to songwriter/producer Jimmy Napes as a surprise housewarming gift for Sam Smith.

Henry Mancini: I tuned the pianos for Mr. Mancini and other musicians at CBS Studios, Evergreen-Radford Scoring Stage.

On one occasion, I remember having to tune 2 old upright pianos (upright grands), slightly out of tune with each other to create a Honky-tonk piano sound for the movie soundtrack 'Sunset' (this effect could have been accomplished with one piano).

Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne: I sold a piano to Ozzy’s live sound engineer Greg Price and also sold a piano to his engineer Clay Janes. Greg mentioned that Ozzy was just gearing up for the ‘Black Rain’ tour and invited me to a closed rehearsal at Third Encore studios. It was a great experience and I met Ozzy, Sharon, Zakk Wylde, Adam Wakeman, etc. 

A few months later when Ozzy played at the Staples Center my wife & I attended the concert and Greg invited us to sit in where he was mixing the live show. 

I also take care of Ozzy and Sharon’s Steinway S baby grand in their L.A. home (including tuning it for Ozzy’s 70th birthday party). By coincidence, I also tuned Rod Stewart’s Schimmel SP189 grand at his home for his 70th birthday party.

Jon Brion: Composer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion’s Mini Piano is the smallest piano I have worked on.

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Photo Courtesy of Rockwell Table & Stage

Photo Courtesy of Hayley Bartels

Rockwell and Downstairs at Fifty Seven were both performance & event venues that purchased baby

grands from me. Jeff and his band were regular performers at both places

Jamie Foxx: Jamie’s personal assistant Wendy called me (from a referral), to see if I could refinish his childhood piano; a 1952 Starck-ette spinet. I let her know what I could do and how much I would charge. A few days after our initial conversation, Wendy called me again and said they would like me to do the work. I suggested that it would be best if I inspected the piano first before picking it up and made an appointment to see it at Mr. Foxx’s offices in West Hollywood. Upon inspection, I found the piano also needed major repair & restoration work.

As I knew Jamie was a very good pianist and would want to play the piano, I didn’t feel right just refinishing it. I then went ahead and made an itemized list outlining what his piano needed for the restoration.

Tommy Chong: Tommy & Shelby Chong are really great people. I’ve worked on their piano several times and was always a

fan of 'Cheech & Chong'. While tuning their Yamaha C5 grand, Tommy told me a few stories of how he & Cheech first got together.
Shelby & Tommy are very charitable and have party/fundraisers at their home. They were also kind to invite my wife & I to an event which we attended and had a great time. Tommy also gave me 2 Cheech & Chong character pipes and a Chong matchbook…….

I wonder what for?…..lol.

Alan White: Alan was in L.A. recording the ‘Yes’ album ‘Big Generator’. After I finished tuning the piano for him, he played me a few of the tracks (from the new album), in his home studio.

Mel Brooks: I was referred to Mel Brooks by my client Doug Besterman who was orchestrating the music for the Broadway version of ‘The Producers.' I met Mr. Brooks to tune his personal piano in his office on the Sony Studios lot. I mentioned how I loved his movies and he asked which one I liked the best. Well, how do you answer that question when so many of them are classics? LOL 

By coincidence, for many years I also took care of the 2 pianos at Gracie Films (also on the Sony Studios lot), for James L. Brooks & Richard Sakai. I remember all of ‘The Simpsons’ merchandise around their offices - posters, dolls, games, even a Simpsons pinball machine, etc.

Doc Severinsen: The original band leader from ‘The Tonight Show’. While tuning Doc’s piano at his home, I remember asking if he wouldn’t mind playing his trumpet (from the other room), a bit quieter as I couldn’t hear when tuning his piano. He of course understood being a professional musician.

Vin Scully: A legend in the world of baseball and the official voice of the 'LA Dodgers' for over 60 years. Mr. Scully & his wife Sandra have been my clients for approx. 20 years. In 2010, I gave their Kawai GS-70 semi-concert grand a full detailing at my workshop to bring it back to its original gleaming condition. After delivering their piano back to them they were very happy with the results and invited me to join them for lunch.
Their daughter and son-in-law also became clients when they purchased a Yamaha Disklavier upright from me in 2009.

Rockwell Table & Stage: Performing at Rockwell, Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers: Since April 2009; I’ve sold 4 pianos to Flea. One of which was a Steinway 1098 upright for his studio

(The Boat). I also sold pianos to John Frusciante, Josh Klinghoffer, and a Yamaha Silent System upright (with MIDI), for the band to tour with (7 pianos in total).
I’ve had many interesting experiences over the last 14 years working for the RHCP, from tuning at Flea’s studio/homes to different rehearsal spaces in Malibu, Frogtown, to venues, and
Rick RubinsThe Mansion’ in Laurel Canyon.

By coincidence, Nate Walcott (the RHCP’s touring keyboardist), also bought a piano and previously in 2006 record producer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse), who produced ‘The Getaway’ album bought 2 Yamaha’s (U1 & U3), from me for his home and studio. Rick Rubin also purchased a U3 from me for his studio in 2021.

 

Glen Ford: I worked on Mr. Fords Steinway baby grand at his home in Beverly Hills for ‘The Magic of Mozart Concerts’. He told me the story of how his piano was given to him by Judy Garland.

Justin Timberlake: Tuned a piano at a closed rehearsal for Justin Timberlake at Third Encore studios. At first, they contacted my business about renting one of my pianos for Justin's latest tour. At that time, I didn't have the specific type of midi/acoustic Silent System piano they were looking for. However, after they found one, they called me again to tune it.

When arriving at the studio it was very difficult to tune the piano as Justin's 15-piece band was playing on a soundstage in the next room. The music and vocals sounded excellent however it was extremely loud so I could only tune in the small gaps of silence between them rehearsing.

Chad Everett: While tuning Chad’s baby grand (which was in a large living room), his pet bird was flying around and kept insisting on wanting to land on my shoulder. When I finally gave in, the bird then started singing and chirping in my ear which was cute but made it hard to tune.

The Fabulous Baker Boys’: When I tuned and worked on the pianos for ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys’ movie, I met Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Bridges, and Beau Bridges. As the brothers each played a piano at the same time (in the movie), I remember Beau was joking with me and asked which piano was the best so that he could play it rather than his brother Jeff.

Soho House West Hollywood & Cirque du Soleil

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Photo Courtesy of Soho House

Soho House with one of my Yamaha upright pianos in

The Luckman Club (far left corner).

On opening night, I tuned it for the singer Nick Jonas.

Dec 2021, I also sold a Yamaha GC1 baby grand for their Sitting Room (I had bought this piano from the actress Lisa Kudrow)

Going behind the scenes at the Cirque du Soleil show ‘Zumanity’ as Doug Boyd (Technical Director), contacted me to evaluate their Yamaha C5 grand in Vegas

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There have been many more piano stories including: going to several estates for the Richest Man in the World to work on his PH Grand and Yamaha C7, talking with Meg Ryan about her Kawai baby grand, going to Drew Barrymore’s guest house working on a player piano, talking with guitarist Tommy Shaw while tuning his piano, having a conversation with Andy Summers about 'The Police' while servicing his 2 Bosendorfer grands (studio & home).

Getting called regarding appraising the value of Eddie Van Halen’s Steinway D Concert Grand, for a piano for Lady Gaga at the MTV VMAs, and to service Taylor Swift's piano at the GRAMMY Museum.

Also tuning for Annie Lennox at her rehearsal plus on another occasion tuning for Andrea Bocelli and his rehearsal.
Seeing
Little Richard play after I tuned the baby grand for him at Hollywood Center Studios, etc.

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