Donald Gould aka ‘The Homeless Piano Man’
What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Piano Man’? Billy Joel, you say. Well, get ready to have your mind changed. That’s right, it’s time to hang it up, Billy. Move along Stevie. Hit the road, Elton, because there is a new ivory tickler in town and his name is Gould.
In a clip posted by Mashable from 2015, a long-haired man sits at a piano in the Florida streets. He tears through an electrifying cover of prog-rock power ballad ‘Come Sail Away’ – much to the amazement of passers-by.
As he continues to play, one spectator repeats “Do you know how hard that is to play?!” – fascinated by the skill on display.
The song being played by the disheveled gent, once a multi-platinum hit for stadium-rockers Styx, shows talent rarely seen outside of the concert hall.
So, who is this mysterious key thumper?
His name is Donald Gould aka ‘The Homeless Piano Man’.
Michigan resident and an already accomplished musician, Gould studied music theory at Spring Arbor University. However, tragedy befell the former Marine in 1998, when he lost his wife and subsequently, custody of his son. This tailspin led to drug addiction and eventually, life on the streets.
It was the above-mentioned clip – now with a staggering 45 million views – that proved to be a saving grace, going viral shortly after it was uploaded and opening a world of possibility for the former Marine Corp musician.
Shortly after becoming the talk of the internet, a GoFundMe campaign was set up in his name, raising $40,0000. This allowed Gould to attend rehabilitation and get the second chance he needed. Check out the transformation in the video below.
Since this life-altering chain of events, Gould, among many other things, has played in front of a packed stadium– performing the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ at the season-opening game for the San Francisco 49ers.
Reflecting on this accomplishment he told ABC 7 “I couldn’t look, I had to focus, I got 80,000 people. I got a performance all of a sudden.”
Although he still struggles with issues relating to his time on the streets, Donald’s life remains filled with positivity – releasing the album Walk on Water in 2017 and showcasing his unique talents around the world. Walk on Water is out now through Triple Pop Records.