Just before the fire at The Station nightclub, Nicholas O'Neill had a chance to meet members of the band Great White, an encounter he relayed to his friend David Tessier in a phone message before the band took the stage.
''There's no place in the world he would have been other than right there,'' Tessier said.
O'Neill, 18, known as "Nicky O.," was an aspiring musician who was described as "a walking library of '80s rock knowledge" by his friend Jon Brennan. He and Brennan played in a band called Shryne, which last year put out its first record, "Day Has Turned to Evening." Tessier praised O'Neill's songwriting ability and stage presence. "I was in awe of this kid's talent," said Tessier, 32, who plays guitar in a band called Grandizer Punch. "He inspired me as a musician."
Tessier recalled O'Neill's "glam" style, and his wardrobe of fur jackets, sandals, and jeans slit up the sides. For his 18th birthday in January, O'Neill got his first Marshall amplifier and was working on strengthening his skills as a guitarist, Tessier said.
Shryne played at The Station on New Year's Eve. Brennan, a student at Rhode Island College, was with O'Neill in the club the night of the fire, but he managed to escape. Brennan remembered his friend as a young man devoted to his friends and his music. "He was a rocker through and through."