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Piano Man Was a Hoax
image Back in May I wrote an entry about the Piano Man mystery (the institutionalized piano player in England who was lacking an identity). At the time I doubted it was a hoax, but I was wrong. My wife, who immediately said his story reminded her of Princess Caraboo, was right. He was pretending to be mentally ill. (According to the article "he had previously worked with mentally ill patients and had copied some of their characteristics.") A few days ago, he suddenly started speaking and revealed his identity. Now he's been sent back to Germany, his home country. Although the authorities are not revealing his identity, I've heard that reporters are trying to track him down.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 22, 2005
Comments (15)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
From the article in the Times:

When he was first discovered, the man refused to speak but when presented with a pen and paper, sketched a detailed picture of a grand piano. He was subsequently led to a piano in the hospital's chapel where his four-hour performance was described by Michael Camp, his social worker, as "really amazing".

Now it is suggested that he merely tapped at one key repeatedly.


But I'm still willing to bet they'll be a movie made about the quiet, mad piano virtuoso...
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Mon Aug 22, 2005  at  11:34 PM
I should point out that pretending to be mentally ill *is* a mental illness...

Similar to Munchausen Syndrome, I suppose.
Posted by Bobcat  in  complete denial  on  Mon Aug 22, 2005  at  11:55 PM
It's not really a mental "illness". It's fun, damn it.
Posted by Reynard Muldrake  on  Tue Aug 23, 2005  at  01:13 AM
When I read another article about him today, they said that nothing the Daily Mirror had said about him had been confirmed at all. It's a very large claim that the Daily Mirror is making, so right now I'm taking it with a grain of salt until there's some actual evidence.
Posted by Dan  on  Tue Aug 23, 2005  at  02:45 AM
And the Daily Mirror don't exactly have a reputation for accuracy. They are the newspaper that published some hoax photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq.
Posted by Andrew Nixon  on  Tue Aug 23, 2005  at  05:06 AM
Well, the way he just turned up - it had to be something bizarre, not just a random assembling of events.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Tue Aug 23, 2005  at  07:31 AM
That reminds me of Davey, who's still in the Navy, and probably will be for life, insane bugger
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Aug 23, 2005  at  02:40 PM
Citizen Premier sez:
"But I'm still willing to bet they'll be a movie made about the quiet, mad piano virtuoso..."

Actually "they" already made that movie, as Alex pointed out in the original entry. The movie was called "Shine," and it came out about nine years ago.

I strongly suspect that this "Piano Man" was deliberately imitating David Helfgott, the real person "Shine" was based on.
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Tue Aug 23, 2005  at  06:26 PM
This guy really can play the piano!! But only when he's wearing his LifeWave patch.
Posted by hcmomof4  on  Tue Aug 23, 2005  at  06:29 PM
Info is still confusing and contradictory but it looks as if you were correct in the first place and that it wasn't a hoax.

All of today's UK paper's have his name, photos of his parent's house, etc. Some are saying he IS mentally ill, others that he is gay and ran away from his strict Catholic village (or that he is both). This is the BBC's latest take on it:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4176032.stm
Posted by Killer Bob  in  UK  on  Wed Aug 24, 2005  at  10:05 AM
I say he must be at least slightly mentally ill. Does anyone know how he ended up in England though? I mean Germany and England aren't exaclty close neighbors.
Posted by Dany  in  Waco, Texas  on  Wed Aug 24, 2005  at  03:30 PM
According to today's papers he is 20 year old Andreas Grassl from Prosdorf in Bavaria, Germany. He had been working in Paris but disappeared in May. In fact he had got the Eurostar train to London. Nobody in Prosdorf recognised him as "the piano man" because when they last saw him he had long brown hair, glasses and acne, in the photos he has white hair, no glasses, no acne and looks much older than 20.

All of this is in every UK tabloid today (Thursday 25 August). Which doesn't mean it's true of course...
Posted by Killer Bob  in  UK  on  Thu Aug 25, 2005  at  12:34 PM
On BBC Radio 4 I heard a man who had faked mental illness for two weeks discussing this case. He said that he didn't think anyone could keep it up much longer than he had. For one thing, mental hospitals are not, as Reynard Muldrake believes, places to have "fun". In fact they can be pretty horrible places (you're surrounded by insane people, after all). A sane person would need an extremely compelling reason, plus a very high level of self-control, to remain mute for four months.
Posted by Mr Henderson  in  Teddington, England  on  Sun Aug 28, 2005  at  05:19 PM
English press have just printed a story about the piano man in which it has claimed to of found the parents and the links to autissum. I have no doubt that the sun leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to accuratly reporting anything but the sypmtems are very similar. I cant make a judgement based on fact or fiction, perhaps mental stability isnt that black and white either,
Posted by pat  in  england  on  Mon Aug 29, 2005  at  02:07 AM
Love can sometimes be like a grand piano. Each new note more beautiful than the last.
Posted by Lamar Cole  in  United States  on  Thu Jan 12, 2006  at  12:59 PM
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