I first met with Dream Theater when I was 16. My bandmate handed a cassette with the song "Wait for Sleep": in two days I have to learn it on piano because he'd like to sing it.
I think that was the first sleepless 2 days in my life with that piano skills I had back then.
I became a musician and among a lot of bands, once I was asked to transcribe the vocals of Pull Me Under for a tribute band. They showed me a lot of songs of Images And Words as the "Best Music on Earth, maaaan!", but I really wasn't interested - I was learning jazz-piano that time. But that "Wait for Sleep" from many years before haunted me every time I was on a soundcheck.
It was autumn in 1999 when a gamer magazine (weird, huh?) wrote a short article about titled "The Best Prog Album Ever", I think you know what it was: Scenes From a Memory. I bought it right away and listened over and over for 10 years I think.
I realized what those friends were talking about, I had to grow up for this.
I bought all the albums since then - it's a sign of respect, because Hungary is not that CD-buyer country -, made transcriptions, tried to memorize and understand all the details what you really get only after the 100th walkthrough.
I think DT is among the highest level music in rock, jazz, classical and pop altogether. That's why in the school I tought rhythm, scales, harmonies, tempo keeping and thinking out of the box (!) through DT's best songs for my students.
Your music influenced my songwriting and arranging ways too, with my pop-acappella band we won international awards with my arrangements of Hungarian folk songs and other pieces - which ones I wrote keeping DT in my mind: "Think out of the box, try not to keep it simple and not to spare the work! And give something for the musicians too!
Through my example you can see how you could change a lot of people's lives all over the world, how you may have changed thinking in music, other styles and brands of music - like that butterfly in chaos theory. Now I'm close to 40, and for me the butterfly was the "Wait for Sleep" which I still play usually on soundchecks.
Of course I could go on writing pages about my first live DT concert with an unerasable smile on my face, or my favourite song (Beneath the Surface) novadays, but it would be too long, so...
I wish you all a Happy Birthday and a next 30 years!!!