[Photo by: The Smithereens/Facebook]
Pat DiNizio, vocalist and rhythm guitarist of pivotal rock band the Smithereens, died at the age of 62 on Tuesday, as announced by his fellow bandmates and reported by NBC News. A cause of death was not provided.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pat DiNizio,” the group wrote in a Facebook post. “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.” See the group's full announcement below.
DiNizio formed the Smithereens with lead guitarist Jim Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros and drummer Dennis Diken in New Jersey in 1980. They released their first album Especially For You in 1986, which featured the hit “Blood And Roses,” a song that garnered the quartet much acclaim after its placement in films of the era like Dangerously Close and popular '80s TV shows such as Miami Vice. The Smithereens followed that early impact in the power pop and alt-rock domains with 1988's Green Thoughts, 1989's 11 (which spawned the hit “A Girl Like You”) and 1991's Blow Up before experimenting with harder rock and metal styles on 1994's A Date With The Smithereens.
Notably, the Smithereens were an avowed influence on Nirvana's Kurt Cobain: The grunge progenitor listed Especially For You among his favorite albums in his personal writings that were published posthumously as Journals in 2002. As mentioned by Rolling Stone, the Smithereens' debut left such an impression on Cobain that he originally sought to have the band's frequent producer, Don Dixon, man the boards for Nirvana's Nevermind, before Butch Vig ended up in the producer's chair for the seminal 1991 release.
The Smithereens continued to record and perform throughout the '90s and 2000s, releasing God Save The Smithereens in 1999, Beatles tribute Meet The Smithereens! in 2007, The Who covers album The Smithereens Play Tommy in 2009 and their latest LP, 2011, in the commensurate year.
A number of bands and artists have paid tribute to DiNizio and signaled the importance of the Smithereens' work following the musicians death. On Wednesday, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills tweeted, “Very sad to hear of the passing of Pat DiNizio. Always enjoyed speaking with him and hearing him play.”