Page 3 Profile: James Rhodes, Pianist


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The Independent Online

Cobain meets Chopin?

His hair’s a mess! He smokes! He has “Sergei Rachmaninov” tattooed on his wrist! All of which have led to classical pianist James Rhodes to be labelled a “Rock star on a Steinway”.

A little ersatz…

No, he’s the real deal and he’s worked hard for it. He kept up piano through school, but never got past Grade 3….

So he persevered?

He buried himself in a job in the City for a decade. He returned to his childhood dream of being a pianist, only when, he says “the pain of not doing it got greater than the pain of doing it”.

Everything fell into place?

He practised six hours a day, took four-day long lessons from “a psychopathic teacher”, lost 35lb in weight, his wife and was sectioned and spent nine months in a mental hospital.

A past he’d like to forget, surely?

He’s using the experience for a Channel 4 documentary, in which he takes his piano to a Northampton psychiatric ward to  hopefully help them recover with personalised pieces of music.

What’s the logic?

Rhodes believes music holds a special power in returning people to sanity. His own recovery was kickstarted when a friend smuggled an iPod into his hospital, containing a piece of music by Bach.