One of the most popular Blog Posts I have ever written was on the Boeing 747 Piano bar (posted in July 2010!). This post gets the highest monthly traffic on my blog almost every month! A few days ago, I had a very interesting comment posted on the article. This comment shares the story of Don Morningstar, a piano repairman who worked on the pianos for the 747s operated by American Airlines. The comment is re-posted here in it’s entirety, for your reading pleasure.
“Here is a little more information you are looking for about the American Airlines 747 Coach Piano Bars. They operated from late in 1970 for about 3 to 4 years when they were removed. My Father, Don Morningstar, was the West Coast Wurlitzer repairman assigned to keep these pianos in working order. There was also an East Coast Wurlitzer repairman as well.
Don would get up around 3AM to head out to LAX for the grounded 747′s, which AA would line up at least two to be serviced per service call, and it would take 90 minutes for each piano bar to be disassembled for him to begin working on the pianos, and then later reassembled. After several months of “wasted time” in taking them apart and putting them back together, he had American Airlines repair crew do the disassembly and reassembly so that he could repair and tune more of their fleet per service call. American Airlines was grateful for the opportunity to save him the time, and themselves some money!
Most of the repairs were for sticky keys and broken reeds from passengers spilling their drinks onto the keyboard, and after a while making the keys hard to strike, meaning people would pound on the keys to get them to play and thus breaking the reeds!
Don Morningstar lived in Redondo Beach and Torrance, CA from 1966 to 1976 and serviced Pianos and Organs. He was on call by most of the stars in and around the Hollywood area. Some of the stars he worked for include:
- The Carpenters (1967 – 1976)
- The Beach Boys (Including tuning their EP’s before their performance at the White House)
- Fleetwood Mac (1970 – 1976)
- Mel Torme (1968 – 1976)
- Tina Turner (Worked for her one time and vowed never to work for her again!)
Just to mention a few. He was even asked to tune Liberace’s piano before his shows.
Don also tuned and repaired the pianos and organs at Dodger Stadium, The Queen Mary, Disneyland, and several recording studios as well.
Don retired in Vermont, and passed away in Oct. 2003.
Posted by his Son, Mark
(Disclosure: While we have no reason to believe otherwise, Unroadwarrior is unable to verify the authenticity of these statements).
Enjoy! I hope the 747 piano bar makes a return (A A380 piano bar, anyone?)