Many first heard of The Smithereens in 1986 with Blood and Roses but the band were around long before that. They formed in March 1980 and the four members go back even further as neighbourhood pals.
The Smithereens hailed from Carteret, New Jersey (“A Proud Community On The Move”, population 28,000 on the Arthur Kill River) a blue-collar suburb also serving as a bedroom for commuters working in nearby New York City.
As the alt.rock scene began seeping overground in mid-80s America, The Smithereens were almost alone in championing the beat-pop of The Kinks, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, and their crisp, melodic punch seemed almost sedate alongside Hüsker Dü and The Replacements.
They saw it all – record company rejections by the score, releases they financed themselves that got great reviews and no distribution, gruelling club gigs where they would split a $20 paycheck four ways.
Their 1986 debut album, Especially For You was hopelessly ahead of its time, while their second LP Green Thoughts, honed by producer Don Dixon, was a hook-crammed feast of guitar rock, tempered by narcotic ballads and a melancholic world view.
Smithereens 11 (1990) was their biggest selling album to date but their career faltered in 1991 with the poorly received Blow Up leaving critics pondering if the band had run out of ideas.
Frontman, singer and rhythm guitarist Pat DiNizio passed away in Summit, New Jersey, on 12 December 2017. He was just 62.