The loss of beloved artists hurts regardless of time and age, though the loss of a New Jersey-native always stings a little more in The Aquarian Weekly offices. Dec. 12, The Smithereens’ lead singer, Pat DiNizio, passed away at the age of 62.
“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,” The Smithereens wrote on their official Facebook. “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.”
Formed in the early ‘80s, this Jersey-grown quartet (I’m talking the original lineup, and not post 2006) made waves with their iconic blend of rock propelled power-pop. DiNizio was not only the band’s lead vocalist, but also the mystic writer behind their hits, like “Only a Memory,” “Too Much Passion,” and “A Girl Like You,” cultivating an enduring cult-following.
From their conception and debut record, Especially for You, to a slew of additional albums that followed (including originals, Beatles’ covers, Christmas albums and the like), touring with other renowned artists and bands like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, and inspiring the late grunge-rocker Kurt Cobain as he wrote Nevermind, The Smithereens — and DiNizio himself — have created a lasting and genre-crossing impression on the music industry, and graced the cover of The Aquarian Weekly five times since 1986.
Myself, being a Scotch Plains native like DiNizio, his name and music was a legendary mainstay in town. I fervently remember the pride as my father would mention, without fail, that DiNizio lived in our town, every single time we heard The Smithereens come on the radio. As I grew and began to pursue music journalism, the weight of our shared town made me hope one day our professional lives would cross paths; unfortunately, they never did.
There’s a pride in having a hometown hero that’s hard describe, but that you recognize in moments like these. A pride that only grows exponentially in knowing that their legacy will not only live on, but will continue to inspire others to pursue a dream that was shared.
The Smithereens have sold out what is poignantly called the “Time and Time Again: A Celebration of the Life of Pat DiNizio” concert, being held Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Count Basie Theatre. As they pay tribute to a bandmate and friend lost with greatest hits and guest vocalists, a portion of the show’s proceeds will be used to establish the Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship at Basie’s Performing Arts Academy.
Because who knows? The next Pat DiNizio could be budding in your hometown, and one legacy is always bound to inspire another.