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Q Lazzarus, Elusive “Goodbye Horses” Musician, Dies at 61

Q Lazzarus, Elusive “Goodbye Horses” Musician, Dies at 61

Q Lazzarus, the reclusive musician behind the beloved 1988 single “Goodbye Horses,” has died. An obituary that appeared in the Asbury Park Press in late July states that the she died on July 19 after a short illness. Further cause of death has not been revealed. Eva Aridjis, a close friend who was working on a documentary about the singer, confirmed the death to Rolling Stone. Lazzarus was 61 years old.

 “Q had one of those life forces that you simply can’t imagine being extinguished or ceasing to exist, because it was so vital and radiant and exuberant. Despite having had a very hard life, she was not jaded at all,” Aridjis told Rolling Stone. “On the contrary—she was full of enthusiasm, passion and humor. And she was also full of plans. At the time of her death, we were planning a ‘comeback concert’ with some of her original bandmates.”

Q Lazzarus was born Diane Luckey in 1960 in Neptune, New Jersey. The youngest of seven siblings, Luckey fell in love with music at a young age and sang in the Mount Pisgah Youth Choir. After seeing the Harlem Renaissance musical Bubbling Brown Sugar on Broadway, she decided to pursue music professionally and moved to New York City at 18. She quickly found work as a backup singer and jingle writer at Sigma Sounds Studio and soon enough began performing under the name Q Lazzarus (her backup band was called the Resurrection). 

While working as a taxi driver, she encountered the filmmaker Jonathan Demme. As Aridjis recalled to Rolling Stone, Luckey was listening to a tape of her own music in anticipation of a recording session. When asked by Demme whose music was playing, Luckey reportedly replied, “Well thank you very much it’s me.” Demme used Luckey’s music in several of his films including “The Candle Goes Away” in 1986’s Something Wild, “Goodbye Horses” in 1988’s Married to the Mob, and a cover of the Talking Heads’ “Heaven” in 1993’s Philadelphia, which featured an appearance from Luckey herself. “Goodbye Horses” would be used most prominently in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, drawing newfound attention to Luckey.

Despite these opportunities, Luckey struggled to secure a record deal. Soon after the release of Philadelphia, Luckey retreated from the public eye. “[N]ot even her best friends or bandmates knew what had happened to her,” Aridjis told Rolling Stone. Fans, journalists, and amateur detectives attempted to track Luckey down. In 2018, someone posed as the musician on Twitter using the handle @AKAQLazzarus but Aridjis confirmed to Rolling Stone that this was not Luckey and that the real singer was “very upset by that incident.” Nonetheless, the account led a Dazed reporter to Staten Island, though no official confirmation was made.

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