Does this man strike a chord with you?
May 16, 2005 6:12 AM   Subscribe

Do you know this man? The identity of a man found wandering on a beach in Sheppey, Kent, wearing an evening suit and who will not talk but who expertly plays piano concertos for hours is baffling the police.
posted by mr.marx (75 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I'm pretty sure he was headed for the time traveler convention and got lost due to the Earth shifting. Music and drawing are his only means of communicating with primitives like us.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:19 AM on May 16, 2005


Scorned by Paula Abdul, no doubt.

Any man that loses both a dream(y) woman and a talent contest is apt to give himself a long, cold shower and refuse to speak even to the media.

Or maybe not. I smell a TV special here.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:26 AM on May 16, 2005


...he will not speak but, when left a pen and paper, drew a Swedish flag and a picture of a piano. They gave him a blue and a yellow pen? Because that cross-flag thing could be lots of flags if he only has one pen and is stuck with only one color.
posted by dabitch at 6:29 AM on May 16, 2005


dabitch: maybe he drew this one
;)
posted by mr.marx at 6:32 AM on May 16, 2005


He kind of sounds like a missing plot device.
posted by mrs.pants at 6:40 AM on May 16, 2005


Anyone who recognises the "Piano Man" is asked to contact the National Missing Persons Helpline

And anyone who doesn't recognize it is probably lucky.

He says, "Son, can you play me a memory...
posted by pracowity at 6:42 AM on May 16, 2005


Yes, he does strike a chord. And that chord is some sort of autism related spectrum disorder... not that I just diagnose everything with that now.

Honestly... non-verbal, plays the piano for hours on end, draws good (as well as non-creative) three demensional drawings.
posted by redsparkler at 6:47 AM on May 16, 2005


He kind of sounds like a missing plot device.

Indeed. Cue somber, kitchen-sink British film in 63,113,851.9 seconds
posted by bendybendy at 6:51 AM on May 16, 2005


Bill Frist could probably diagnose him lickety-split, if he hasn't done so already. He's definitely not in a persistent vegetative state, it appears.
posted by MrSoyBoy at 6:57 AM on May 16, 2005


those shots are great album covers
posted by strawberryviagra at 7:00 AM on May 16, 2005


those shots are great album covers

Especially if the guy turns out to be Syd Barrett.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:03 AM on May 16, 2005


"He has been playing the piano to a very high quality and staff say it is a real pleasure to hear it.[...]"

Cheaper and safer than those illegal Bittorrent downloads.
posted by kika at 7:06 AM on May 16, 2005


I really hope I misunderstood the comment that seemed to call Paula Abdul a "dream(y) woman."
posted by Kwantsar at 7:13 AM on May 16, 2005


shine on you crazy diamond
posted by strawberryviagra at 7:15 AM on May 16, 2005


Apparently I'm the only one who found this story hauntingly sad. Maybe it's having been awake for over twenty-four hours and working for twenty-two of them, but this just seemed really tragic to me: extremely talented person who has obviously had something terrible happen to them, and no one even knows who the guy is. It's been several WEEKS, and he still hasn't said a word.

Blah.
posted by Fontbone at 7:15 AM on May 16, 2005


Billy Joel probably has his lawyers trying to figure out if he can sue the guy for stealing his nom de plume. Joel spent some time in an insane asylum. He was suicidal in his youth, and tried to overdose on Lemon Pledge. I shit you not. They need to get these two 'piano men' together.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:17 AM on May 16, 2005


This is doubtless some sort of Stephen Merritt publicity stunt.
posted by TonyRobots at 7:17 AM on May 16, 2005


Aaargh. Now I have to dig out my "Madcap Laughs".
posted by grateful at 7:18 AM on May 16, 2005


who expertly plays piano concertos for hours

[Pedantic]

There's no mention of him playing piano concertos, which would of course be difficult since by definition a concerto requires accompinament, if not of a full orchestra, at least of a second pianist. "Concerto" doesn't just mean "piano composition.

[/finally putting my music degree to use]

posted by soyjoy at 7:19 AM on May 16, 2005


Wow. How cynical we are.
posted by paladin at 7:19 AM on May 16, 2005



‘Piano Man’ is probably English
posted by strawberryviagra at 7:25 AM on May 16, 2005


accompinament

(still working on that English degree)

posted by soyjoy at 7:26 AM on May 16, 2005


Coming soon to a theater near you, with Sean Penn as the enigmatic "Piano Man".
posted by GeekAnimator at 7:29 AM on May 16, 2005


Does he play skee-ball?
posted by patgas at 7:31 AM on May 16, 2005


Maybe I'm being over-sensitive, but I don't see how this is at all funny.

My reading of this - is that a guy (however talented) has had some kind of breakdown/issue - or is in a strange and scary place - why is that funny?
posted by mattr at 7:32 AM on May 16, 2005


Mattr- There's both humanity and absurdity in this story. I don't recognize the guy, so I can't do anything about the humanity. I'm not really very funny either, so I can't do much with the absurdity, but I'm enjoying the efforts of others. I'm sure we'd all like this guy to find his way home and whatnot, but meanwhile, he's hanging out playing piano in a place that feeds him, most musicians have to get a girlfriend to do that.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 7:42 AM on May 16, 2005


I hope they find out who he is and help him get back (if he wants).

At least give the man around the clock access to a piano.
posted by flippant at 7:45 AM on May 16, 2005


most musicians have to get a girlfriend to do that.

And you said you weren't funny. JK basically summed up my reasons. Do I feel sad for this guy? Sure, but the details of this story are rather bizarre. If you learn to enjoy the absurd, it makes life a lot more pleasurable, especially since there is so much absurdity around us!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:48 AM on May 16, 2005


He hasn't spoken, and drew a Swedish flag (or another Scandinavian Cross-type flag, like the Danish?), yet they are pretty sure he is English?

What gives? Bad dental work?
posted by cx at 7:56 AM on May 16, 2005


Plot device, indeed. It also made me think of Richey Edwards, too, for some reason.
posted by chandy72 at 7:56 AM on May 16, 2005


I hope they find out who he is and help him get back (if he wants).


It looks like they might.

Mr Camp said someone had called local police and given the name and address of who they believe the Piano Man may be. He said: "A name has been given of a possible person from the Sussex area. I haven’t been able to phone the person that phoned in to check it out."
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2005


The guy probably worked as a pianist on a mafia don's cruiser, befriended boss' girlfriend, was found out and thrown overboard and assumed dead. Guy lost job, girlfriend and peace of mind. Would you talk to anyone in his position?
posted by acrobat at 8:02 AM on May 16, 2005


If you learn to enjoy the absurd, it makes life a lot more pleasurable, especially since there is so much absurdity around us!
posted by Pollomacho


Hear, Hear.

Does The Piano Man's situation remind anyone else of that crappy Kevin Spacey movie 'KPAX?'
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:14 AM on May 16, 2005


I think these kinds of stories are so fascinating. Thanks for sharing!
posted by sugarfish at 8:26 AM on May 16, 2005


Lord Lucan?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:14 AM on May 16, 2005


One of the reports said the labels in all his clothing had been cut out. Very odd. I hope they work out who he is.
posted by dublinemma at 10:20 AM on May 16, 2005


Until he is identified he will no doubt continue to play his sad but soothing music to the pleasure of those caring for him and his fellow patients.

And they sit at the bar and put bread in his jar and say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"
posted by fandango_matt at 10:33 AM on May 16, 2005


Woah! This is way too similar to the plot of the new British film, "Ladies in Lavender", starring Dame Judy Dench.

Two aging spinster sisters have their peaceable Cornwall existence disrupted in 1936 when they take a young Polish violinist into their care. After a particularly violent storm, Ursula and Janet Widington awake to find young man Andrea half-drowned and badly injured on the beach. They slowly discover that he is a Polish Jew with a gift for music as an accomplished violinist, hoping to find his way to America.

posted by billysumday at 10:37 AM on May 16, 2005


I found this kind of moving too & hadn't expected such a jokey tone in here (not that it's a bad thing, just wasn't my impulse). and I also didn't seem to think the swedish flag was meaningful... anyway, interesting story.
posted by mdn at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2005


Autistic savant
posted by puke & cry at 12:08 PM on May 16, 2005


Autistic savant


But then how would he end up on a beach somewhere, dressed up, and soaking wet?

I actually think that's a less likely option. If his behavior since found is normal for him, odds are he would be unable to care for himself on a day to day basis. Whoever was in charge of his care, be it family, a group home, whatever, would have spent the last month frantically searching for him. It would have already been news before he was even found. An autistic savant who can communicate only through the piano lost somewhere in Europe? It would certainly be bigger news than that runaway bride nutball.

Odds are this is someone who lives alone, or travels frequently (some articles have said people calling in recognized him from concerts throughout Europe). That's really the only way he could be missing for this long without a corresponding report looking for him on the National Missing Persons Helpline.
posted by Kellydamnit at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2005


I'm with Fontbone, mattr and mdn. This had me in tears. Poor guy.
posted by deborah at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2005


I, too, thought this was a haunting and disturbing story. I hope he snaps out of it and can start talking soon. In the meantime, it seems his caretakers are doing a good and compassionate job of caring for him.
posted by Specklet at 1:43 PM on May 16, 2005


I'm with you guys--terribly sad, and probably a horrible backstory to this.
posted by amberglow at 1:49 PM on May 16, 2005


One of the reports said the labels in all his clothing had been cut out.

I hope someone can figure out whether or not his clothes are safe to go in the dryer... I have enough trouble figuring that out when the labels are still intact.

Thinking about it though, a lot of my clothes don't have labels... I take them out of T-shirts because they're scratchy, and off my Levi's because I don't need the rest of the world knowing that I wear a 33 waist with a 36 leg. My socks don't have labels, and my underwear had it silkscreened on (but that only lasted about 4 washings).

But I can't play the piano.
posted by Snowflake at 1:57 PM on May 16, 2005


How very sad. Though I find the above comments funny, there was nothing in the actual story that made me laugh. This is fascinating, and deeply moving. Someone should record his compositions; I'd love to hear them.
posted by Saellys at 2:12 PM on May 16, 2005


he looks like he's never ever been hugged. : <
posted by amberglow at 2:54 PM on May 16, 2005


I cant help being a bit suspicous - just seems like a publicity stunt or some guys wierd ploy. It just seems convenient that all the labels on his clothes are cut off, and that the first thing he drew was a piano so he could show his wonderful talents..
But I agree if he is suffering some mental trauma or something its pretty sad.
posted by phyle at 4:52 PM on May 16, 2005


Reminds me of Phillip Stauffen.
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:50 PM on May 16, 2005


Yes, he does strike a chord. And that chord is some sort of autism related spectrum disorder... not that I just diagnose everything with that now.

I know being autistic and having aspergers is "in", but come on, it doesn't sound like that at all.

It sounds more like a Dissociative Fuge, or if it turns out to be temporary then, as they say amnesia. From the DSM-IV
posted by reflection at 6:36 PM on May 16, 2005


I also didn't seem to think

no, apparently I didn't...
insert "understand why they" between didn't & seem, there...


phyle, why would the labels being cut from his clothes be "convenient"?
posted by mdn at 6:55 PM on May 16, 2005


reflection: that was my first thought when I read about this case as well. Though the fact that he has been mute makes it all the more intriguing. Unfortunately the DSM-IV can be very vague about stuff like this, but I didn't think "traumatized", even if he was found in a state of disrepair.

I hope they figure out who he is.
posted by somethingotherthan at 8:03 PM on May 16, 2005


But there's someplace that he'd rather be
He says, 'Bill, I believe this is killing me.'


Piano Man's first name is Bill.
posted by mwhybark at 8:21 PM on May 16, 2005


This has certainly happened before.
posted by zardoz at 8:30 PM on May 16, 2005


phyle, why would the labels being cut from his clothes be "convenient"?

Well its wierd at least. Does anyone actually cut the labels of their suit for any reason? Im sure the police would be able to tell if they were cut off or its just a label-less suit. And it would maybe be able to help place where he was from, especially if he is a foreigner.
posted by phyle at 9:02 PM on May 16, 2005


Sometimes the labels are cut out of designer clothing sold in outlets. Or perhaps it's a quirk/compulsion of his - no labels. But I agree that it is quite a strange coincidence; you have an unknown person, evidently unable to communicate, and one of the few clues available to narrowing down a possible place of origin is missing.

Though in today's world of multinationals, etc. this is no longer as true as it once was. Anyway, it's quite a mystery, and I can't wait to see how it turns out, and who he is.
posted by taz at 9:38 PM on May 16, 2005


*shrug*
I could very easily see one of the little autistic boys I teach demanding that all the labels be out, or fixating on them until they had to be removed.
posted by redsparkler at 9:48 PM on May 16, 2005


Sad, if not a hoax (although I still enjoy the humour in the thread and I hadn't heard of Kaspar Hauser before - interesting). The musical talent made me think of Clive Wearing.
posted by DyRE at 10:29 PM on May 16, 2005


This was the plot of last week's "Crossing Jordan" but instead of a pianist, the mystery man was a medical illustrator. And he spoke. And he was Joel Gray. But still, quite similar.
posted by Dreama at 11:20 PM on May 16, 2005


Viral Marketing Hoax.
See him recover his memory and go on to be the next... um... Elton John!
posted by Balisong at 11:21 PM on May 16, 2005


Maybe it's Charlie Todd? He's been a little quiet recently. Perhaps this is his latest improv stunt?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:31 PM on May 16, 2005


I grew up with a kid in my neighborhood that could do three things.

I met him because he had a skateboard halfpipe in his backyard. He could skate. He could also do a handstand walk up and down a flight of stairs with a skateboard on his feet, then land it at the end.
The third thing he could do was play piano. Like a master. Hours and hours of beautifully reconstructed masterpieces.

He ended up being a stunt diver at 6 flags.

It's all in the marketing, I say.
posted by Balisong at 12:38 AM on May 17, 2005


They gave the guy a piano when he drew one, but did they give him a flag when he drew one? What would they do if he drew Natalie Portman?
posted by ZachsMind at 4:10 AM on May 17, 2005


give him a kleenex?
posted by taz at 11:34 AM on May 17, 2005


My guess: Chris Martin.
posted by sellout at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2005


Piano man identified? After a flurry of people contacting authorities with tips, it seems he may have been identified as a French street musician. Granted, it's still just one possibility among thousands of leads, but the Italian gentleman who reported it seems convinced that it's the same person he worked with in Nice. Of course, even with all of this unresolved, Hollywood is more than willing to step in and use him for their own gain.
posted by escapevelocity at 4:43 PM on May 17, 2005


Grr...I screwed up the first link. Sorry.
posted by escapevelocity at 4:45 PM on May 17, 2005


so, he hopped on a yacht in Nice, and ended up there? What happened?
posted by amberglow at 5:33 PM on May 17, 2005


It sounds more like a Dissociative Fugue . . .

And just how did you know what a Dissociative Fugue sounds like, then?

I don't believe any of them have been composed yet, but perhaps our Mystery Pianist/Composer, being an expert in both dissociation and fugues, will get started on one ASAP . . .
posted by flug at 12:23 AM on May 18, 2005


...'Vill, what are you doing here?'

Apologies for the earlier mistranscription. I had wax in my ear.
posted by mwhybark at 12:39 AM on May 18, 2005


Only in France do street musicians play grand pianos...
posted by strawberryviagra at 6:26 AM on May 19, 2005


The hunt for the "Piano Man" has moved to Canada after the latest trail ran cold. Police are trying to find out if the prodigy found wandering on a Kent beach - and still unable to speak - is a man dubbed Mr Nobody in Toronto. ...
posted by amberglow at 5:37 AM on May 20, 2005


Piano Man may be a British actor named Geoffrey Betts.

Compare the pictures: 1, 2, 3.

Read the interview with a friend.
posted by ericb at 4:29 PM on May 20, 2005


i don't think they look alike at all, eric--do you?
posted by amberglow at 4:37 PM on May 20, 2005


i don't think they look alike at all, eric--do you?

No, I don't. Let's hope that the international focus can indeed reunite him with friends and/or loved ones.
posted by ericb at 9:38 PM on May 20, 2005


« Older Protesting church policy...  |  "Defending America's Most Vuln... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments