Pat DiNizio, who as lead singer and songwriter for the New Jersey band the Smithereens blended pop, rock and New Wave music for such hits as “Blood and Roses” and “A Girl Like You,” died Dec. 12. He was 62.
The band announced the death on Facebook but did not disclose any other details. Mr. DiNizio posted several days ago that he was hopeful of getting back on tour as he continued physical therapy for neck and back injuries at the Victorian farmhouse he was restoring in Scotch Plains, N.J.
The Smithereens peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s but continued to tour and record. Their more recent albums included “2011” and “The Smithereens Play Tommy,” a tribute to the Who’s rock opera. Mr. DiNizio also released an album of Beatles covers “Meet the Smithereens!,” in 2007.
Mr. DiNizio was born in Scotch Plains on Oct. 12, 1955. He helped form the Smithereens in 1980 after placing an ad looking for a drummer to help him on a demo tape. Dennis Diken responded and with him brought Carteret High School classmates guitarist Jim Babjak and bassist Mike Mesaros. They named themselves after a favorite word of cartoon character Yosemite Sam.
“We all happened to love the same music and also as importantly be fans of the same pop culture things,” Mr. DiNizio told SugarBuzz Magazine in 2007. “We grew up watching Soupy Sales, Chuck McCann and The Monkees. We all grew up reading Mad Magazine and there was a shared background. So we agreed upon all of that.”
Influenced by everyone from Buddy Holly to the Clash, the Smithereens blended catchy melodies and grinding guitars on “A Girl Like You,” “Only a Memory” and other songs. Their breakthrough came in 1986 when “Blood and Roses” was featured in the movie “Dangerously Close” and the song’s video was aired on MTV.
Mr. DiNizio was a movie fan whose stylish ballad “In a Lonely Place,” featuring Suzanne Vega on backing vocals, included lines from the Humphrey Bogart movie of the same name. His unsuccessful bid as the Reform Party candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 2000 was chronicled in the documentary “Mr. Smithereen Goes to Washington” (2001).
His opponents included Rep. Robert D. Franks (R) and the millionaire Goldman Sachs co-chief executive Jon S. Corzine (D), who eventually prevailed. On the hustings, Mr. DiNizio criticized them both as ill-suited to looking out for the interests of average citizens. “As Jerry Garcia said, ‘Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil,’ “ he told the New York Times.