New Jersey rocker Pat DiNizio, the lead singer of rock group The Smithereens, died on Tuesday,
He was 62.
DiNizio, a Scotch Plains, N.J. native, was the singer, as well as guitarist and songwriter for the band, which was founded in Carteret in 1980.
The Smithereens announced his passing on their official Facebook page at midnight Wednesday, but did not reveal a cause of death.
“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 post read.
DiNizio had a number of health problems in recent years, including losing the use of his right hand and arm in 2015 after a pair of falls that caused serious nerve damage, according to Variety.
Earlier this year, the band was forced to cancel three tour dates after DiNizio hurt his back and neck after another fall.
Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens died on Tuesday at 62.
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
They were scheduled to head back on the road in January — kicking off a tour at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank on Jan. 13.
“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,” the post continued.
Count Basie issued a statement after learning the sad news.
“We are heartbroken at the news that Pat DiNizio has passed away. He is one of many who championed rock and roll and helped put New Jersey on the map as a destination for so much sound,” the theatre posted on Twitter.
“He will be missed by those of us in the business, his peers, his friends and fans, Godspeed :(”
The Smithereens were known for hits like “Girls About Town,” “Strangers When We Met,” “Beauty and Sadness,” “Blood and Roses,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and several more.
Portrait of American rock band the Smithereens, Chicago, Illinois, September 13, 1991.
(Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
“I love it,” DiNizio said of life with the Smithereens in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “It beats picking up garbage, like I used to do. We’re self-employed – beyond the fact that we get to do what we love for living.”
In 2000, DiNizio had an unsuccesful try in politics after running as a Reform Party candidate for New Jersey seat in the U.S. Senate.
He later appeared on the ESPN reality show “7th Inning Stretch” in 2006 where he attempted to join a minor leaguse baseball team in the Garden State.
The Smithereens started out with members DiNizio, Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken and Mike Mesaros before Severo Jornacion replaced Mesaros in 2006.
They derived the band name from the Yosemite Sam catchphrase, “Varmint, I’m a-gonna blow you to smithereens!”