BURLINGTON -- When Eugene ''Geno'' Avilez of Burlington was driving with his friends Derek Gray and Scott R. Dunbar to the Great White concert at The Station nightclub last week, the CD player in his car broke. So the trio chatted the entire way down to West Warwick, R.I., about music and all the concerts they had been to.
Now Dunbar is left to tell his friends' story. He survived the fire at the night club Feb. 20 that killed 97 people. But Avilez, 21, and Gray, 22, both died in the blaze.
"We had a lot of good memories going down to that concert that night," said Dunbar, 24. "We got to talk."
Dunbar said he met Avilez and Gray, who were best friends and fellow 1999 graduates of Burlington High School, at 1980s hard rock club concerts. The three became regulars.
"We would go to club shows. They were my concert buddies, and I don't have them anymore," Dunbar said. "[That] past Sunday we had gone to see [hard rock band] King's X in Chantilly's [in Manchester, N.H.]. We had a blast that night, too. We played pool. Geno was a 100 percent genuine person."
Dunbar said the three were passionate about the '80s hard rock scene and would try to go to as many shows as they could. They were big fans of the band Great White.
"We were the ones that were always in the front row singing to the words of every song," he said. "They were my heavy metal buddies."
Dunbar said Avilez had been working at the Starbucks coffee house in Woburn.
Dunbar said he has talked to Avilez's family to offer his condolences. "It's been really tough," Dunbar said. "They were fun loving and absolutely the best people. I thank God that I was able to become friends with both of them."
Meanwhile, Rita Pizzi, who lives across the street from the Avilez family on Brookfield Road, said she remembers Avilez being close to his family.
"I would see him cutting the yard," Pizzi said. "He was a hard worker for his mom. He would be on the roof in the hot summer with his grandfather, doing roofing work."