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Keith Anthony Mancini

Cranston, R.I.

There were a lot of things that Keith Mancini liked in life -- freshwater fishing with his brother Craig, playing with his girlfriend's children, and making people laugh. But his real passion was music. He had played bass guitar in local bands since he was a teenager, and at 34, he still planned to become a rock star.

"What he really wanted was to have his band cut a record deal," his brother recalled.

Last Thursday night, it seemed possible. Keith's new band, Fathead, played before the headliner, Great White.

"The Fathead players were very, very excited that night. Great White was such a high-profile band in the '80s, and Fathead thought maybe someone in the audience could help them cut a CD," Craig said.

Mancini lived in Cranston, where his father, Anthony, owns a hunting and fishing store.

Often, the Mancini brothers would take some live bait and tackle and go to fish from the shore of a nearby lake. "We'd just go out and enjoy the day," Craig Mancini said.

Keith Mancini worked for the past several years at Rhode Island Novelty in Johnston, where he was remembered as enormously popular. "He was so fun to be around, he was silly, and he projected such a positive image," said his boss, Kyle Duffney. Last summer, the company formed a softball team. Mancini's father had his store sponsor it.

Duffney spotted raw pitching talent in his worker and put him on the mound. He blossomed there, and the team entered a more competitive league.

Mancini, though, never took it too seriously. "He'd talk to the ball while he was on the mound," Duffney recalled. "He'd say, `OK, this time you are going to be a strike.' "