Pat DiNizio, singer-songwriter and frontman for ‘80s alternative mainstays The Smithereens, has died. DiNizio’s death appears to have been rather sudden, as only a few days ago he posted on Facebook about how he had been receiving physical therapy after damaging his neck and back in a fall but “we are doing our very best to deal with current medical issues to get me in shape for our upcoming gigs.” The band confirmed his death in a simple statement published on their official website last night. He was 62.
Born in Scotch Plain, New Jersey in 1955, DiNizio was working at his family’s trash-hauling business when he placed a classified ad looking for a drummer that led to the formation of The Smithereens with Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken, and Mike Mesaros in 1980. With a knack for Beatles-esque power-pop hooks and a relentless touring schedule, the band achieved moderate success on MTV and FM and college radio with songs like “Blood And Roses,” “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” and “A Girl Like You,” even though their highest-charting album, 11, peaked at No. 41 in 1990. Kurt Cobain was a devoted fan, and The Smithereens opened for everyone from The Ramones and Bruce Springsteen to Tom Petty and The Pretenders over the course of their multi-decade-long career.
The Smithereens’ music has been featured in films like Bull Durham, Timecop, and Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion, however, and the band appeared as themselves in the Troma movie Class Of Nuke ‘Em High playing their song “Much Too Much” in 1986. In addition to the 11 albums DiNizio released with The Smithereens—most recently, 2011's 2011—he also released four solo albums, mounted an ultimately unsuccessful U.S. Senate run documented in the film Mr. Smithereen Goes To Washington, released an audiobook memoir, and appeared in 7th Inning Stretch, an ESPN2 reality series documenting his attempt to form a minor league baseball team, in 2006.