Frontman for a long-tenured New Jersey band beloved for its alternative rock take on traditional rock ‘n’ roll.
By Fred Mills
In a year that couldn’t possibly get shittier, news arrived today that does just that: Pat DiNizio, guitarist/vocalist for New Jersey’s Smithereens, passed away yesterday (Dec. 12) at the age of 62. The cause of death has not been announced yet, but it’s known he’d had health issues in the recent past, including severe nerve damage resulting from a fall. The band announced the sad news at their Facebook page:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pat DiNizio, lead singer and songwriter of the influential New Jersey rock band, The Smithereens – America’s Band.
“Pat was looking forward to getting back on the road and seeing his many fans and friends. Please keep Pat in your thoughts and prayers.”
Another post read thusly:
“Today we mourn the loss of our friend, brother and bandmate Pat DiNizio.
“Pat had the magic touch. He channeled the essence of joy and heartbreak into hook-laden three minute pop songs, infused with a lifelong passion for rock & roll.
“Our journey with Pat was long, storied and a hell of a lot of fun. We grew up together. Little did we know that we wouldn’t grow old together.
“Goodbye Pat. Seems like yesterday.
“Jimmy, Mike, Dennis”
The Smithereens emerged on the US college rock scene in the early ’80s, issuing their debut LP Especially For You in ’88, winning over audiences with their immaculately crafted – but edgy, and hi-nrg – rock, that bore distinct overtones of classic British Invasion like the Beatles, Kinks, and Who, while still remaining distinctively contemporary. Memorable tunes by the band include “A Girl Like You,” “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” “Only a Memory” and “Blood and Roses.”
DiNizio also released a number of well-regarded solo albums, and even found time to run the U.S. Senate (under the Reform Party banner) in 2000 as well as hosting an XM radio station and an ESPN show.
He will be greatly missed.