Helpline: Do you know this pianist?
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
On April 8, 2005, police picked up an unidentified man wandering the streets of Sheerness, United Kingdom. The man was wearing a formal black suit and white shirt with all labels removed, and was soaking wet, as if having been in the sea.
He has not spoken a word since he was found, but when given pencil and paper he drew a piano. Seeing the picture of the piano, the medical staff at the Medway Maritime Hospital where he was admitted showed him the piano in the hospital chapel. To their amazement he sat at the instrument and played classical and pop music for several hours.
Many press reports have emphasized the piano playing, and the man has been labelled "The Piano Man" by many news services, although the hospital staff has been calling him "Mr. X."
However, the chaplain of the hospital, the Reverend Steve Spencer, said the man "is not the virtuoso that he has been portrayed in the press. He knows a small number of tunes and plays them over and over. I recognized some John Lennon and a snippet from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake."
The man also pointed to a flag of Sweden when shown an atlas, initially leading the hospital staff to believe he was from Sweden. To date this lead has not panned out. A different account from the National Missing Persons Helpline (NMPH) indicated that the man actually drew the flag.
The NMPH is appealing to anyone who recognizes the man to contact Teri on +44 20 8392 4509. All calls will be treated as confidential. The NMPH can also be reached at +44 500 700700. Emails can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the man's social worker, Michael Camp, all initial leads (including the Swedish flag information) have gone cold.
One notable lead on May 17 came from a Polish man called Darius Dydymski who claimed that the man is a French street musician he worked with in Nice named Steven Villa Masson(e). However, this lead turned up cold on May 18 when Masson's sister, Julie Villa Massone said, "I saw my brother yesterday in Nice." Also, AFP found him living in Nice near the train station.
A Wikinews contributor believes that the person referenced is an acquaintance of his named Geoffrey Betts. Betts is an actor who is a citizen of the U.K. Betts has lived much of his life in the Dallas, Texas area and has spent some time recently in Louisville, Kentucky.
A visual comparison of the person in the various news articles can be compared to Geoff's website (listed in External links below). The source reported his findings to the U.K. authorities several hours before this posting.
At this time, no leads have been verified.
- "Exclusive Interview: Piano Man is possibly a British actor" — Wikinews, May 19, 2005
- "Do you recognise this man?" — NMPH, May 16, 2005
- "Fantastic response to 'piano man'" — BBC News, May 16, 2005
- Sue Leeman. "Mystery Briton Doesn't Speak, Plays Piano" — ABC News (US), May 16, 2005
- "Leads, twists in 'piano man' case" — CNN.com, May 16, 2005
- "British hospital seeks ID for mystery piano player" — MSNBC, May 16, 2005
- Alison Purdy and Anna Farley. "Piano Man 'Is French Street Musician'" — The Scotsman, May 17, 2005
- David Sapsted. "Does this man strike a chord with you?" — The Daily Telegraph (UK), May 16, 2005
- Steven Morris and John Hooper. "Hollywood considers film on lost identity 'piano man'" — The Guardian, May 18, 2005
- "Give Me a Name, I'm the Piano Man" — FOX News, May 17, 2005
- Eoghan Williams. "Mystery of 'piano man' who plays but remains silent" — The Independent, May 17, 2005
- "Le pianiste amnésique n'est pas le Niçois cité par un témoin polonais" — AFP and Radio France, May 18, 2005 (French)
- Philippe Naughton. "Piano Man mystery back to square one" — The Times (UK), May 18, 2005
- National Missing Persons Helpline main page
- Geoffrey Betts' website (requires plug-in to be viewed — now carrying the text I'm not the piano-man!!!)
- Geoffrey Betts profile (no plug-in required)
- Profile of Geoffrey Betts at the IMDB
- Amazon.com: Geoffrey Paolo Betts's Wish List
- Amazon.com: Reviews written by Geoffrey P. Betts
- http://www.fairstatementproductions.com/ (seems to have gone out of business)