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Billy Joel Guitarist Says Crowd’s Generational Span Still Growing

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The cult of Billy Joel lives on according to his guitarist, who says that the “Piano Man’s” music continues to entice and snag each new generation that experiences it. Mike DelGuidice — who has long been the frontman of the Billy Joel cover band, Big Shot — is the latest addition to Billy’s live ensemble, and told The Atlantic, that he’s astounded by what he sees night after night, explaining, “His music speaks to generations. His songs bring you to places you remember being a kid when you first heard them. They always seem to take you to a place where you were and I think that’s why it’s spanning generations. We see grandparents with their kids with their kids’ kids — and I think that’s gonna keep happening, more so than with any artist ever, I would say. Even the Beatles have sort of faded for this generation, but Billy hasn’t. Billy’s still cranking.”

DelGuidice spoke about the nightly practice of pitting two Billy tunes against each other during the show and letting the crowd choose which one they want. He explained that every night that it’s in the running, “Vienna” from Billy’s Grammy-winning The Stranger set, always gets the nod: “We’ve put that song against almost every hit song in concert and the crowd picks ‘Vienna.’ And that was an album cut, that wasn’t even a hit. I could attribute it to how good the song is, that’s one of those that takes you to a place. . . We usually have to change guitars for different songs. Whenever ‘Vienna’ is against something, I just keep the ‘Vienna’ guitar on.”

Billy Joel recalled the inspiration of 1977’s “Vienna” when he reconnected in his 20’s with his absentee father, who returned to his native Austria when Billy was eight: “Vienna was always a crossroads city (in Europe). So, I go to visit my father in Vienna and I’m walking around in this town and I see this old lady — she must’ve been about 90 years old and she’s sweepin’ the street. And I say to my father, ‘What’s this nice old lady sweepin’ the street?’ He says, ‘She’s got a job, she feels useful, she’s happy, she’s making the street clean, she’s not put out to pasture. . .’ And, I thought this is a terrific idea that old people are useful and that means that I don’t have to worry so much about gettin’ old, because I can still have a use in this world, in my old age. And I thought: ‘Vienna waits for you.'”

April 28 – Atlanta, GA – SunTrust Park
May 13 – Los Angeles, CA – Dodger Stadium
May 25 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden Arena
June 6 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden Arena
June 17 – Green Bay, WI – Lambeau Field
July 5 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden Arena
July 14 – Cleveland, OH – Progressive Field
July 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Target Field
July 14 – Cleveland, OH – Progressive Field
August 11 – Chicago, IL – Wrigley Field
August 21 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden Arena
August 30 – Boston, MA – Fenway Park
September 9 – Philadelphia, PA – Citizens Bank Park
September 21 – St. Louis, MO – Busch Stadium
November 3 – Indianapolis, IN – Bankers Life Fieldhouse
November 29 – Salt Lake City, UT – Vivint Smart Home Arena
December 8 – Portland, OR – Moda Center

Photo Courtesy of Sony Legacy

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