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Home > Media

Journojism: Piano Man

26 August 2005

‘He wanted to go into radio or TV or maybe study journalism.’
- a neighbour of ‘Piano Man’ Andreas Grassl
Poor Piano Man. One minute an enigmatic musical genius, the next just another 20-year-old who wanted to work ‘in the media’. His neighbour may as well have added ‘… or advertising or the music industry. He applied for a job as a researcher with Planet 24 but didn’t hear anything.’ This week Piano Man turned out to be Andreas Grassl, 20, from Prosdorf, Germany. Not much is known about Grassl, except that he can’t play the piano. Well done the UK press! In fact, the whole story of Piano Man was little more than the media jumping to conclusions. The idea that he played piano came from a doodle he drew while in hospital in Kent, nothing more.

The tabloid press also took a slightly distasteful view of the idea that Grassl was ‘faking’. It emerged that he has worked with psychiatric patients in the past, which may have helped him to feign being disturbed. But he’s not, as some papers have claimed, a fake or a fraud in any meaningful sense. Grassl was clearly disturbed (nervous breakdown and borderline personality disorder have been suggested), if only temporarily, and the only benefits he has reaped are some NHS food and a counterproductive form of fame. ‘Andreas? He’s the guy who went mental.’

What’s irksome about the story of Piano Man is that we were all taken in by the media making it up as they went along. And eagerly propagating the myth that genius is close to madness. It’s not.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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