DCSIMG

Deaf blind DJ from Leeds writes book about his remarkable life story

Pat and Michael Gerwat who together have written a book about Michael's life as a piano tuner and his susequent loss of hearing.  Picture by Bruce Rollinson

Pat and Michael Gerwat who together have written a book about Michael's life as a piano tuner and his susequent loss of hearing. Picture by Bruce Rollinson

  • by Alison Bellamy
 

A DEAF BLIND DJ and former piano tuner for rock stars has written a book about his remarkable life story.

Michael Gerwat, 64, from south Leeds, spent 21 years as a piano tuner to famous singers and bands including Elton John, Bob Dylan, Genesis, U2, Simple Minds, Wham and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

He has been blind from birth and 25 years ago he lost his hearing and with it ,his career and then turned to djing.

Michael, who also played the piano, said: “I am totally deaf and blind. My only contact with the world is through my cochlear implants and computer equipment.

“I decided to publish a book about my life called ‘Touch Me Please’ which I feel sure people would be interested in. It’s a very human and moving story, describing my career tuning pianos for the top rock bands and how difficult life was when I lost my hearing.”

He wrote the book with help from his former wife Pat.

Pat said: “Michael was devastated by the onset of deafness, he looks back on his childhood and education in schools for the blind, and recalls his successful career. We describe our struggle to build a meaningful life for Michael after he went deaf.

“There are moments of intense sadness but also touches of humour. Despite the difficulties he faced, Michael’s indomitable spirit shines through.”

Michael, from Belle Isle, is well-known from his decades as a piano tuner at homes across Leeds.

The former vice-chairman of the Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind used to work for Barkers piano firm in Leeds, then set up his own business and was in demand.

Michael was employed by Leeds University Union and when stars came on tour he was called to tune their pianos.

He recalled the years between 1968 until 1989 when he tuned pianos for a living and loved meeting the stars backstage. He said: “I was once tuning Elton John’s piano and he overheard me playing some of his songs while setting up and he joked: ‘Well I may as well go home now after hearing you play!’

Michael says that Genesis are his favourite band.

He lost his hearing suddenly when he was 40 and had to stop tuning pianos as he could no longer hear the notes.

It was devastating for him to lose his main means of contact with people: “For some unknown reason I lost all my hearing and had no other communication than the hand language before I had my first cochlear implant fitted in 1992.

“I can hear people’s voices, although they sound like electronic daleks, but I can’t really hear tunes.”

The self-published book is now for sale on Amazon.

 

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