Pat DiNizio, Smithereens lead singer, has died at 62

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Pat DiNizio, lead singer of the Smithereens, in photographed in 2007. | FILE PHOTO

Pat DiNizio, who as lead singer/songwriter of the band The Smithereens blended pop, rock and New Wave music, died Tuesday night. He was 62.

The news was announced via a statement on his Facebook page from his bandmates Jimmy Babjak, Mike Mesaros and Dennis Diken:

The cause of death was not announced.

In a Facebook post dated Dec. 9, Mr. DiNizio had thanked his fans for their support during his recuperation from a fall and that “we are doing our very best to deal with current medical issues to get me in shape for our upcoming gigs.”

The New Jersey band was formed in the 1980s, and achieved success with radio-popular hits such as “A Girl Like You,” “Too Much Passion,” “Blood and Roses” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep.”

“Our journey with Pat was long, storied and a hell of a lot of fun,” surviving band members said in their Facebook statement. “We grew up together. Little did we know that we wouldn’t grow old together.”

Babjak, Diken and Mesaros of Carteret met DiNizio in 1980 after the singer placed an ad in a music weekly. The Smithereens honed their skills at clubs in the New York and New Jersey region, breaking through with “Blood and Roses” in 1986. The song was featured in the movie “Dangerously Close” and a video for the track made it to MTV.

“The Smithereens are, in essence, a mirror for our audience,” said DiNizio to Gannett NJ. “We’re four working-class guys from New Jersey from the neighborhood that looks, and acts and speaks and resembles, our audience. So whenever they come to a Smithereens show, they’re really looking at themselves. … We were on the right corner at the right time and we had the will and desire to work hard, a lot of patience and a lot of resolve, which is really the essence of America.”

Mr. DiNizio also recorded and toured as a solo artist, including his famous Living Room Tour in the early 2000s in which he performed “house concerts” in fans’ homes, as a way to stay musically relevant and earn a living.

“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,” Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday night.

The band’s power pop/rock musical influences reflected strong ties to the ‘60s British Invasion sounds of the Kinks, the Beatles and The Who.

The Smithereens most recently played the Chicago area with a gig in September at the Arcada Theater in suburban St. Charles.

Contributing: USA Today, AP

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