Homeless Edmonton piano player who gained fame from viral video dies at 46

File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Ryan Arcand, a musician who touched Edmontonians with his spontaneous piano performances, shown in this still image taken from a video. A family member says Ryan Arcand was found dead last Sunday.

EDMONTON — A Edmonton homeless man whose spontaneous piano performance was viewed on the internet by millions of people has died.

Ryan Arcand, 46, died last weekend in a supportive housing complex where he had been living for a few months, said Jared Tkachuk, an outreach manager at Boyle Street Community Services.

He said Arcand struggled with a developmental disability, trauma and mental illness and used alcohol, drugs and the piano to cope.

“He was quite proud of his talent and I think he was happy that it got acknowledged because that’s so rare for people who are marginalized,” said Tkachuk.

Arcand had been living on the streets when a woman recorded him playing a battered outdoor piano near city hall in 2014.

Roslyn Polard said she was struck by his beautiful music and others who also stopped to watch the performance had tears in their eyes.

She posted the video on YouTube and it quickly went viral.

The video raised enough money to buy Arcand a keyboard, although Tkachuk said he’s not sure if Arcand still had it when he died. Arcand ended up in and out of housing and different social programs over the years.

“Our journeys don’t go in straight lines sometimes,” said Tkachuk.

“Things weren’t easy for Ryan and that’s how it often went.”

But music was always important to Arcand and before he died he was still writing his own songs, Tkachuk added.

Arcand was originally from the Alexander First Nation, northwest of Edmonton, and his funeral is to be held there Saturday.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deerians can have a say about crime fighting

Municipality will poll citizens about policing priorities

Updated: Red Deer man sentenced to six years for stabbing death

Shane Dion McPhee pleaded guilty to manslaughter for February 2016 slaying

Watch: Pandas on the move

Artist Patrick LaMontagne shows his work in this time lapse video

Canadians support strict restrictions on pot packaging: Health Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government says the Canadian public broadly supports the… Continue reading

Mali choppers face crash threats, but can shoot back at militants: Vance

OTTAWA — Given prior experience, the Canadian helicopter contingent bound for Mali… Continue reading

Watch: Pandas on the move

Artist Patrick LaMontagne shows his work in this time lapse video

Rebels Fan Fest set for Wednesday

Time to cheer on the Rebels; Tickets on sale for WHL playoffs

Uber self-driving vehicle hits, kills pedestrian in Arizona; Company stops tests

TEMPE, Ariz. — Uber says it has suspended all of its self-driving… Continue reading

Tories want debate on 12-month mission to support UN mission in Mali

OTTAWA — Canada’s official Opposition wants a full parliamentary debate on the… Continue reading

Brand of lean ground beef recalled due to possible presence of E. coli

OTTAWA — A brand of lean ground beef is being recalled because… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month