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Gift comes complete with Elton John signature

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Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2006 12:23 pm

Some of Jim and Mary Piccolo’s neighbors might be green with envy if they saw the Scottsdale couple’s latest musical acquisition. Actually, make that red with envy. As a seventh wedding anniversary present, Jim Piccolo gave his wife an Elton John Limited Edition Signature Series Red Piano made by Yamaha.

The grand piano is signed in gold paint marker by the rock ’n’ roll legend and comes with a gold plate showing it’s No. 27 of 30 in existence.

The $90,000 instrument is the Piccolos’ second grand piano, though Mary, Jim and their 6-year-old daughter, Samantha, don’t play — yet.

“It was well worth it,” Jim Piccolo said. “Just to see Mary’s reaction when I surprised her with it.

“Some of these pianos were on tour and one came to Herman & Sons (Piano Merchants) in Scottsdale. My wife bought me a grand piano for my birthday a year ago and when she heard about and saw the red one, she said we had to get it.”

Sneaky Jim, chief operating officer and president of Nouveau Riche University in Scottsdale, feigned indignation with a “No, we don’t need that!” to his wife’s pleas, while other thoughts raced through his head.

“I went out that afternoon and bought it,” Jim said with a broad smile. “I couldn’t get it delivered for several months because it was continuing on tour.” Jim’s willingness to wait helped him score tickets to John’s concert Friday at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, along with backstage passes to meet their favorite recording artist.

On Sept. 24, while the couple were in Las Vegas with friends and family, Yamaha employees were setting up the piano in the Piccolo residence.

It’s programmed with vocal and keyboard versions of John songs “Tiny Dancer,” “Your Song,” “Rocket Man,” “Candle in the Wind” and “Take Me to the Pilot.”

Mary Piccolo wondered why their companions in Vegas couldn’t get in their cars fast enough for the return trip to Scottsdale. She admits she had a feeling but, since their anniversary was back on Aug. 5 . . .

“I thought I might get it, but I wasn’t sure,” Mary said. “I was wondering why he had red slacks on and a lot of the people with us were dressed in red. I didn’t want to say anything, though.”

When Mary walked through the front door of the family’s Pinnacle Peak home, turned left and went a few feet ahead, she spied a vase with red roses.

What it was resting on caught her attention immediately. Jim had ordered plenty of red balloons, flowers and a cake with a red piano on it.

“As I walked in before I went to the family room, I thought to myself, ‘The piano is in there. Please let it be in there!’ “ Mary said. “Tears just started to flow. I think this is my Christmas, anniversary and birthday present for 12 years.”

Jim glanced at his wife. “OK,” she amended. “for a lifetime.”

Mary said the Piccolos will maintain John’s tradition of naming their red piano. They’ve decided to call it Marilyn, after screen idol Marilyn Monroe, subject of John’s legendary song “Candle in the Wind.”

What about the eighth anniversary, Jim?

“You’re not putting too much pressure on me,” Jim Piccolo said. “I don’t know how you equal this, yet alone top it.”

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