In an era when fleeting internet fame is often pursued through social media antics and unimaginative ploys, the story of Diane Luckey stands in stark contrast as a genuine tale of serendipity and determination. During the 1980s, Luckey, a New York City cab driver, housekeeper, and au pair, quietly forged her musical identity as the frontwoman as Q Lazzarus, of Q Lazzurus and the Resurrection. In the scant hours away from her day jobs, she and her band would craft vocal harmonies, recording them on cassettes in the basement of her employer’s home. Her voice also found a place in the backdrop of Sigma Sounds Studio, where she lent her talents as a backup singer and penned jingles for various advertisements.
Confronted with a relentless stream of rejection, racism, and sexism from the industry’s gatekeepers, Luckey’s fortuitous encounter with an unsuspecting passenger seemed almost fated. Unbeknownst to her, this chance encounter would propel her from the anonymity of a New York City cab to the annals of cinematic history, cementing her story as a true exemplar of the Cinderella narrative — not spun from social media virality, but woven from the threads of real-life struggle and fated opportunity.
She played him her demo tape, to which he replied, “Oh my God, what is this and who are you?”
The passenger, as it turned out, was filmmaker Jonathan Demme, and the rest is history. Q’s deep androgynous contralto made appearances in subsequent films: “Candle Goes Away” in Something Wild, 1988’s Married To The Mob, and her cover of Talking Heads’ “Heaven” in 1993’s Philadelphia. But by far, she was best known for Silence of the Lambs, in the infamous, haunting scene where Buffalo Bill seduces himself in the mirror to her song “Goodbye Horses.” The juxtaposition of her rich, honeyed voice and the horrors of his sewing room burned in the minds of millions.
As “Goodbye Horses” climbed the charts, Diane Luckey intriguingly stepped back from the limelight. After a fruitful stint in the UK, touring with her band, penning a plethora of songs, and becoming the life of every party, Luckey returned to New York City, where she dabbled in the pulsating beats of house music. However, as the ’90s drew to a close, so did the musical chapter of Q Lazzarus.
Embarking on a markedly different journey, Luckey ventured into the depths of South America, immersing herself in a tapestry of cultures and experiences. This adventurous spirit later led her to the chilly Alaskan waters, where she spent six months aboard a fishing boat. These adventures, far from the spotlight of her musical past, painted a portrait of a woman on a quest for personal growth. Luckey exemplified a relentless pursuit of diverse and transformative adventures.
Psyche, MGMT, Bloc Party, and Deftones covered Goodbye Horses, which also took on new life with Gen Z in TikTok sounds, but as time went on, Luckey stayed behind the wheel. For many years, she worked as a bus driver in Staten Island, content to live a life of privacy. At the time of her death, however, it was revealed that Luckey had been working with filmmaker Eva Aridjis on a feature documentary about her life.
Aridjis has spent the past four years making Goodbye Horses: The Many Lives Of Q. Lazzarus, an intimate documentary about the long-lost Luckey. The two met in an unexpected way, embarking on a friendship and collaboration until Q’s tragic unexpected passing in 2022. Eva has launched a Kickstarter campaign to try to raise the funds to finish her documentary, which features Q’s life story told through Q’s own words and music, many of which has never been heard before.
The Kickstarter video features the only footage of Q to be released in the past 30 years.
There will be an official soundtrack of Q’s songs which feature in the film that will be released, but a record label for this has yet to be determined.
If you would like to help Eva Aridjis preserve the legacy of Q. Lazzarus, the link to the Kickstarter is here.
This Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing venture, so if you are a fan of – or curious about – Q. Lazzarus, and would like to see her take her rightful place in the annals of music history, now is your chance.
This year, Dark Entries Records is also set to release a reissue of Q Lazzarus’s music. The label from San Francisco expressed, “We’ve been working on a Q Lazzarus reissue since we started the label 15 years ago, and it will finally see the light of day this year.”