Pat DiNizio, (born October 12, 1955), songwriter and lead singer for New Jersey band The Smithereens, died on Tuesday December 12, in Summit, N.J. He was 62.
His death was announced on The Smithereens’ website: “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.”
Fellow band members added: “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.”
DiNizio had been in physical therapy after several bad falls in September. At the time DiNizio stated: “I suffered a bad fall in my home the other day and injured myself, but trust me, I’m not on my deathbed or anywhere near it! I am hurt, however, receiving great medical care, but have been ordered by my physicians to take some time off to insure a complete and healthy recover, so we’ve got to take some time off the road so that I can get better. We’ll be rescheduling a few dates so I can heal properly.”
Suzanne Vega, who duetted with DiNizio on the song ‘In a Lonely Place’ and performed the song with him at his 60th birthday party in 2015 tweeted: Lost a good friend last night. RIP. Pat DiNizio.”
Vernon Reid of Living Color noted that the Smithereens song ‘Drown In My Own Tears’ “encapsulates the emotions I feel at the news of the death of the under appreciated singer-songwriter guitarist Pat DiNizio. Those of us who really heard you knew you were The Best. UnSung.”
Garry Tallent of the E Street Band tweeted: “Very sad to hear of Pat’s passing. A good friend for many years.”
DiNizio (rhythm guitar), formed The Smithereens in 1980 with Jim Babjak (lead guitar), Dennis Diken (drums) and Mike Mesaros on bass. (Mesaros was replaced by Severo Jornacion in 2006).
The Smithereens signed to Enigma Records and released their first album, Especially for You, in 1986 with the songs ‘Blood & Roses’ and ‘Behind The Wall of Sleep’ getting airplay. In the early ’90s the group had a Billboard Top 40 hit with ‘A Girl Like You.’
The group also opened for major acts such as ZZ Top, Blondie, the Pretenders and Lou Reed. Kurt Cobain said members of Nirvana were listening to the Smithereens during the making of the classic, Nevermind. DiNizio said the band’s credo was: “You never give up.”
DiNizio also released solo records, including Songs and Sounds (1997) while his group also released cover albums such as The Smithereens Play Tommy (2009) and Meet the Smithereens! (2007), their tribute to the 1964 album Meet the Beatles!
DiNizio is survived by a daughter, Elisabeth DiNizio.