Derek Gray's father, Al, could tell his son was passionate about '80s heavy metal: the notes soared through their home on Wildrose Drive, and he would sometimes ask the 22-year-old to turn it down a notch.
Now, he says, he'd give anything to hear Derek crank up the tunes in his room again.
''His passion in life was music,'' Al Gray said. ''He was very unique. He loved everybody, touched everybody. I cannot believe all the friends that this kid has, I mean, the Internet [hard rock chat rooms are] jammed. . . . He was such a good kid.''
Al Gray said Derek went to see the band Great White with his best friend Eugene ''Geno'' Avilez, 21, of Burlington, and Scott R. Dunbar, 24, of Woburn. Avilez also died, but Dunbar survived.
The 6-foot-6 Gray, a bleached-hair guitar player and songwriter, wanted to start a band of his own, but slowed down his plans after finding out that his fiancee, Barbara McGill, of Melrose was pregnant. McGill, due to give birth in August, was to be married to Gray in September. Avilez was to be Derek's best man at the wedding, according to Al Gray. Derek was known to his online hard rock family as ''Warrantfan,'' a tribute to his favorite '80s band Warrant. McGill said in one of the online forums that if their child is a girl, she will name her Jani after Warrant's lead singer Jani Lane. If it's a boy, she will name him Derek Jr.