Keith A. Mancini

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Keith A. Mancini, 34; hoping to be discovered

As a teenager, Keith A. Mancini dreamed of being a rock 'n' roll star.

Weaned on Black Sabbath, KISS and Poison, he grew his blond hair long and played bass in several bands after leaving West Warwick High School. He even met Joe Jackson in Las Vegas.

The Cranston musician sent his booming bass lines through an amplifier in his Broad Street apartment and scribbled lyrics in a notebook.

His first band was called Nightfall.

"He was very passionate about his music," said Craig Mancini, Keith's older brother. "More than anything he wanted to be a rock star. He wanted to cut a record."

So when Keith's latest band, Fathead, grabbed the opening act for Great White, the band members -- including Keith's cousin Steven -- were excited. "They thought they might get discovered," Craig said.

Keith first embraced the heavy-metal world of power chords and platform shoes as a teenage boy on the Cranston-Warwick line. He went to Bishop Hendricken High School for two years, but switched to West Warwick to graduate with his friends. He played the piano briefly, but learned to play bass and read music from a Mount Pleasant High School teacher.

For years, he worked at his father's store, Continental Bait & Tackle, selling hunting and fishing equipment. "He was a good salesman," recalled his father, Anthony. "He charmed the people."

Three years ago, Keith got a warehouse job with the Rhode Island Novelty Co. in Johnston. And he joined the company softball team as a pitcher. "He was a great guy," said Ralph Tedeschi, his supervisor.

But his first love was music.

He joined the rock band Skyhigh and played often at The Station. There he met guitarist Steven R. Mancini, a second cousin. Keith left Skyhigh to join Steven's band, Fathead.

All of the band members contributed to Fathead's sound, a mix of Bad Company, Creed, Jimi Hendrix and the blues.

"Keith would come up with a bass line out of nowhere," said Tom Conte, Fathead's singer. "He added so much to the band, both in his music and in the show he put on."

"The Station was the only place we played," Conte said. "It had a nice stage and the sound system was the best. We always brought in a good crowd. They rushed the stage and it was a great feeling. It would last for days."

-- Paul Davis


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