NEW YORK: The Smithereens’ frontman Pat DiNizio, who turned up the volume on classic pop with hits such as “A Girl Like You,” has died, his bandmates said Wednesday. He was 62.
The band, which has stayed active since its heyday in the late 1980s and planned a tour next month, announced his death on Facebook but did not reveal details.
“Pat had the magic touch. He channeled the essence of joy and heartbreak into hook-laden three-minute pop songs, infused with a lifelong passion for rock and roll,” the surviving members of The Smithereens wrote.
DiNizio struggled with a nerve disorder a decade ago and in September said that he had suffered a severe fall at home.
In 2015, he appealed with embarrassment for fans’ contributions after another fall during a blizzard as he lacked coverage for his medical expenses.
Growing up in New Jersey, DiNizio had planned to join the family business of collecting garbage until he heard acts such as New Wave pioneers Talking Heads and English songwriter Elvis Costello.
“Then from there I discovered Buddy Holly and it was all over for me. I lost interest in garbage and rekindled my lifelong interest in rock and roll and the guitar,” he later told website Pop Entertainment.
Foreshadowing the 1990s boom in alternative rock, The Smithereens brought the distorted guitars of hard rock to catchy songwriting that harked back to the classic era of pop.
“A Girl Like You” appeared in the romantic comedy “Say Anything…,” one of a number of movies to which The Smithereens would contribute.
Other hits included “Only a Memory” and “Too Much Passion.” In 2009, the band released an album-length cover of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy.”
Unlike many rock acts, The Smithereens remained stable and convivial, working together on songs each night in the basement of DiNizio’s lifelong home.
“There was a mutual respect and love; I really can’t remember any serious conflict,” he said in a 2013 interview with the Florida entertainment site Do West Palm.
DiNizio in 2006 starred in the reality television show “7th Inning Stretch” for sports network ESPN on his quixotic middle-aged bid to enter professional baseball.
In 2000, he ran for the US Senate in New Jersey as part of the Reform Party but received fewer than 20,000 votes of the three million cast.