Nick O. O'Neill

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Nick O'Neill, 18; musician, actor, 'amazing songwriter'

Tall, slim, blond, and 18 years old, Nicholas Philip O'Neill dreamed of being a rock star in a "hair metal" band, his friends say. Party anthems from the '80s were in his blood. He wrote more than 50 of his own songs, catchy tunes about girlfriends and hanging out, and performed them as the lead singer of his band, Shryne.

His father, radio personality and "Father Misgivings" creator Dave Kane, said his son was a natural musician from when he was a small child. By the age of 18 he had recorded a CD.

"We got him five guitar lessons and he just took off," Kane said.

"What really hurts about it," said friend Dave Tessier, 32, "is this kid was just an amazing songwriter. When I met him, the kid was 16 and he'd written all these great tunes. I was in awe of him."

Nick was expecting to hear some more good music when he went to The Station on Thursday night with bandmate Jon Brennan. Jon made it out alive. Nick did not.

"[Jon] was actually with Nick until the final moments when it went black, and they got separated," said Brennan's mother, Kari Tieger.

In addition to being a talented rocker, Nick is remembered as a gifted performer for All Children's Theatre, according to Wrenn Goodrum, the East Providence group's artistic director.

"He was always so full of life," Goodrum said. His jokes would break the tension during a tough rehearsal. His smiles would encourage even the younger members of the troupe, who admired him. "He had a special way of working with them so they could find their parts, their character," she said. "Even some of the kids we adults couldn't reach."

"Nick and I, we used to goof around," said a friend from the theater troupe, Dan Kenner, 16. Kenner remembers

hat once, while they rehearsed for a play about the Holocaust, O'Neill's role called for him to come onstage and greet the other people in the room with a kiss on the cheek. It was supposed to be a somber moment. But as he entered, he whispered jokes in the actors' ears, sending them into stitches. "All the other kids would get in trouble," Dan said, laughing. "You could always count on Nick for a joke."

He was born in Warwick, a son of Joanne O'Neill of Pawtucket, formerly of Cranston, and Kane, of North Providence. He had lived most of his life in Cranston, attending Cranston East High School before moving to Pawtucket three months ago.

Besides his parents, he leaves three brothers, Christian O'Neill of Boston, William O'Neill of Orange County, Calif., and David Kane of North Providence; and his maternal grandfather, Joseph Romanelli of Johnston, and his maternal grandmother, Barbara (Tessitore) Romanelli of Providence.

Zachary R. Mider, Bob Jagolinzer and John Hill




Points of Interest

  • Life at a Glance
  • Life Events Album
  • Favorite Prayer
  • Philosophy
  • Accomplishments
  • Stories written by Family Members and Friends
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