'Piano man' who vowed to play on until his ex-girlfriend returned is punched

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A pianist who was branded “creepy” for trying to win his girlfriend back with a round-the-clock public performance has stopped after saying he was punched in the head.

Luke Howard, dubbed the “piano man”, went viral after he set up the instrument in a public park in Bristol this weekend and refused to leave.

But the musician’s efforts triggered criticism online, with Twitter users claiming his actions were “akin to stalking” and “abusive”.

He claims to have played the piano consistently for almost 48 hours, after having it delivered to the park on Friday, before he was forced to stop when he was punched in the head on Monday.

But the 34-year-old said he did not stop playing because he was punched. Responding to the backlash, he added: “I would much rather be hated and attacked for being who I am than being praised and loved for who I’m not.”

He told the i: “I am just a guy who was trying, albeit naively, to show someone how much he loved them. And I am very sorry that has offended so many people. 

“My intention was never, ever to coerce, emotionally force or use pity to bring this girl back into my life. 

“She is one of the strongest willed, intelligent, decisive human beings I have ever met so to suggest she would succumb to such a tactic is insulting to her.”

His response came after many social media users accused him of trying to coerce the woman, who he refers to publicly as Rapunzel, into doing what he wants instead of respecting her wishes.

After his public attempt to win back his girlfriend went viral, one angry Twitter user wrote: “She already said she wanted to leave it. Why is it ok not to listen when a woman says no?”

Another added: “Sense of entitlement here is awful. She’s a sentient being with her own ability to make decisions. He should move on & stop being a brat.”

And one user said: “this is truly horrible and not okay.”

Acknowledging the backlash, he said it “doesn’t matter” and that “no words that can hurt more than the feeling of losing someone you really loved.”

Mr Howard said he was punched in the head at around 4am on Monday, and told the Bristol Post he had “spectacularly failed” in his original aim.

He said of his ex-girlfriend, who he had been in a relationship with for four months before they split, that their time together was “precious” because she is “so remarkably wonderful”.

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