A homeless ex-Marine has got passersby feeling alright in downtown Sarasota, Fla., as he plays Bach, the Beatles and Styx on a public sidewalk piano.
The skinny, weathered piano man is Donald Gould, 51 who became a cyberspace sensation when a video of one of his performances was posted on Facebook the other day and drew 1.5 million shares overnight.
“What I hope to accomplish is to touch a lot of people, make them feel good,” Gould told Fox 13 in Tampa Bay.
He grew up playing music and his passion endured while he was a Marine and a college student. About 7 years ago he ended up on the streets after struggles with drugs and alcohol, the station said.
Gould plays for tips at pianos placed around the city as part of a public arts project.
“It passes a lot of time and I’m homeless; that’s my hustle out here,” he told Fox 13.
Gould told WFLA-TV his troubles began after his wife died of an overdose and he lost custody of his son about 15 years ago.
A piano Gould likes to play is in front of Clasico Café and Bar, owned by Raffaele Perna.
He told WFLA he wishes more could be done for Gould.
“We are trying to control the amount of tipping that happens not because we don’t want them to be rewarded but they take the money and buy booze and whatever they buy and then they come back an hour later and they can’t even play the piano. That’s the heartbreaking part to it,” Perna told the station.