The year is 1980: disco is dying, hair is beginning to get bigger, and Pat Dinizio has just formed The Smithereens with Jim Babjak, Mike Mesaros, and Dennis Diken in Carteret, NJ. An ad was placed right here in The Aquarian Weekly by DiNizio, as he searched high and low for musicians to help him create a demo. Infectious hooks and power pop would soon become the band’s signature style as they followed in the footsteps of fellow Jersey boys, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.
The year is 1988 and Ferris Bueller had just taught that generation’s youth how to have the best sick day ever. The Smithereens’ second album, Green Thoughts, was floating around the Billboard Top 200 chart and their lead single, “Only a Memory,” was at No. 1 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. They will quickly become a big inspiration to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s early music. At that same time, they will open up for The Ramones, Lou Reed, and many other incredible artists. The Smithereens were beginning to find their niche in the music industry, and were beautifully representing New Jersey’s talent.
The year is now 2017. DiNizio was only 62 years old when he passed away on Dec. 12. His mark on his home state is evident, and his loss is felt by many. He was known for his heart of gold, a soul full of a rock ‘n’ roll and a passion for creating music. When he wasn’t with The Smithereens, he was a solo artist, bringing his passion to people both nationally and locally. He became a hometown staple, a friendly face with a humble attitude.
Mark McGrath of rock band Sugar Ray summed up DiNizio and his loss best on Twitter early in the morning of Dec. 13 by saying that he was “[…] a man who learned from the greats & could craft an effortless, classic pop song… had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, he was complimentary & down to earth. Rest easy thanks for the music & memories.”
There will be a year-end edition of The Aquarian Weekly with Pat DiNizio on the cover coming Dec. 27, featuring highlights of his career and his relationship with our publication.