The piano is currently owned by new wave rock outfit The Alarm, who purchased the piano from Queen in 1985. The instrument has real strings, hammers, etc, but also an internal pickup system and electronics so that it can be easily amplified or recorded.
It transpires that both Queen and The Alarm were performing at the 1984 Montreux Pop Festival. While drinking in a nearby bar, The Alarm’s lead singer Mike Peters was approached by a member of Queen’s crew, who said that their frontman Freddie Mercury wanted to meet him.
“Freddie was very humble and told me that he was a massive fan of The Alarm’s album,” says Peters. “He asked me lots of questions about its recording. Then he gave me a card with his number and told me to call him if he could help us in any way.”
That help came the following year, when The Alarm needed a piano. They arranged to buy the Kawai from the Queen for around £3,000 - their road crew picked it up from the home of Queen drummer, Roger Taylor.
After three years of touring, the piano ended up at Mike Peters’ recording studio, a converted chapel in north Wales, but he feels like now is the time to sell.
“The piano certainly has a kind of magic,” says Peters. “I’d love it to go to someone who gets the same buzz from it as we did.
“This year is The Alarm’s 40th anniversary. It’s a good opportunity to refresh everything we do. Some of our equipment is out of date and we need to reclaim some space.”
Following the sale of the piano, The Alarm went on to support Queen for two nights at Wembley Stadium in 1986. These gigs were part of The Magic Tour, the final one to feature Mercury and bass player John Deacon.
The Kawai piano is expected to fetch between £10,000 and £20,000 when it’s auctioned off on Wednesday 8 December by Gardiner Houlgate in Corsham, Wiltshire. Other equipment going under the hammer includes guitar amps and flight cases.