March 7, 2014 at 10:11 AM ET
Musician Mike DelGuidice's dream came true after spending 15 years fronting a Billy Joel cover band in Long Island, NY — when the real Piano Man called and asked him to join his band.
DelGuidice told NBC News' Harry Smith Friday that he'd always had rock 'n' roll aspirations, using his mother's vacuum cleaner pipe as a microphone. "That's a dream that starts when you're young and it never goes away," he said.
After years of playing at a Long Island pub, he'd resigned himself to life as the leader of a cover band.
"And I said to myself, 'You know what? If this is it, this is all I have, I'm grateful for what I have,'" he said.
But then a funny thing happened: Joel's band members started showing up to watch, and eventually joined in during shows. DelGuidice was then asked to travel with the band in Europe last year. And finally, Joel himself asked the musician to be a part of the permanent touring band.
DelGuidice couldn't have been more grateful. He said he told the singer, "You've inadvertently provided for my family for the last 20 years, and thank you very much." Joel's response, according to DelGuidice, "No, thank you. You've kept my music, you keep my catalog alive."
Today, the cover band (named after Joel's song "Big Shot") has to work around DelGuidice's work with the real deal. And the musician said he's still amazed things worked out the way they did.
"It's unfathomable to me," he said. "I can't tell you what it says about his character. You have a guy that's up here, looking out for a guy down here. What else can you say about him? I've got a great boss."
DelGuidice is currently playing with Billy Joel during the Piano Man's residency at Madison Square Garden in New York.