The Smithereens

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The Smithereens
Three of the original members, Diken, Babjak, and DiNizio in 2009
Background information
Origin Carteret, New Jersey, United States
Genres Alternative rock, power pop, college rock, hard rock
Years active 1980–present
Labels d-tone
Members Jim Babjak
Severo Jornacion
Dennis Diken
Past members

Pat DiNizio (deceased)

Mike Mesaros

The Smithereens are an American rock band from Carteret, New Jersey, United States.[1] The group formed in 1980 with members Pat DiNizio (vocals & guitar), Jim Babjak (guitar & vocals), Mike Mesaros (bass guitar & vocals), and Dennis Diken (drums & percussion). This lineup continued until 2006, when Mesaros left the band and Severo Jornacion took over on bass guitar.

The band are perhaps best known for a string of modest hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including "Only a Memory", "A Girl Like You" and "Too Much Passion". The Smithereens have collaborated with numerous musicians, both in the studio (Suzanne Vega and Belinda Carlisle) and live (Graham Parker and The Kinks). The band's name comes from a Yosemite Sam catchphrase, "Varmint, I'm a-gonna blow you to smithereens!"[2]


Babjak, Diken, and Mesaros are all from Carteret, New Jersey and graduated from Carteret High School in 1975. In 1980, they formed the band with DiNizio, who was from Scotch Plains, New Jersey.[3] DiNizio had placed a classified ad in The Aquarian Weekly looking for a drummer to help on a demo tape – Diken answered it, and later introduced his schoolmates Babjak and Mesaros as well.[4]

The Smithereens are known for writing and playing catchy 1960s-influenced power pop. The group gained publicity when the single "Blood and Roses" from its first album was included on the soundtrack for Dangerously Close, and the music video got moderate rotation on MTV. "Blood and Roses" was also featured on the 1980s TV show Miami Vice during the episode 'The Savage' (first aired February 6, 1987).

Babjak (left) and Jornacion in 2009 in Rochester, Minnesota

The group spent some of its initial semi-celebrity phase defending itself in Rolling Stone against thinly-veiled accusations of sounding too much like the Byrds and the Beatles, pointing out that its Marshall amp-heavy live sound was closer to heavy metal than it was to the Beatles. Along with a basic Eastern-coast roots-rock sound that owed much to the inspirations of DiNizio, including the Who, the Clash, Elvis Costello, and Nick Lowe, the Smithereens deployed a uniquely retro obsession with Mod, the late British Invasion pop of John's Children and the Move, and other artifacts of 1950s and 1960s culture that lent its music substance. But DiNizio has stated that his single biggest influence is Buddy Holly: "Listening to Buddy Holly, I rediscovered my enjoyment of simple pop structures and pretty melodies....I've always thought of him as a kindred spirit."[4]

The title and lyrics of their song, "In a Lonely Place," appear to be based on the 1950 Humphrey Bogart film of the same name because of Bogart's lines: "I was born the day I met you, lived a while when you loved me, died a little when we broke apart." The title and artwork for the album 11 were a nod to the original 1960 Ocean's 11 film.[citation needed]

The Smithereens starred as themselves and were featured as the entertainment in the indoor beach party scene of the Troma film Class of Nuke 'Em High, playing the song "Much Too Much".[5] The soundtrack to the film was not released until 2014.[6]

The highest position a Smithereens album attained on the Billboard pop charts was in 1990, when 11 peaked at No. 41 on the strength of the single "A Girl Like You" (which hit No. 38). "A Girl Like You" was originally written to be the title track for the 1989 Cameron Crowe film Say Anything....[citation needed]

The group is still active and tours frequently. The basic tracks for their latest studio album of original material, titled 2011, were recorded in early October 2010 and the album was released on April 5, 2011.

The Smithereens were the final band to perform at the fabled Bleecker Street nightclub Kenny's Castaways in Greenwich Village, New York City, in October 2012.[7]

In June 2013, The Smithereens toured as support for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.[8]

Original bass player Mike Mesaros reunited with the band for a few performances in late 2016 and early 2017.[9][10]

Singer Pat DiNizio died on December 12, 2017.


  • Jim Babjak – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Severo "The Thrilla" Jornacion – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Dennis Diken – drums, percussion

Former members[edit]

  • Pat DiNizio – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Mike Mesaros – bass guitar, backing vocals


Studio albums[edit]

Extended plays[edit]

Live albums[edit]


  • Blown to Smithereens: Best of the Smithereens, 1995 (Capitol Records)
  • Attack of the Smithereens, 1995 (Capitol Records)
  • Best of the Smithereens, 1998 (EMI)
  • From Jersey It Came! The Smithereens Anthology, 2004 (Capitol Records)

Soundtrack albums featuring The Smithereens[edit]


Year Song Canada NZ[11] UK US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Mainstream Rock Album
1986 "Blood and Roses" - - - - - 14 Especially for You
"Behind the Wall of Sleep" - - - - - 23
1988 "Only a Memory" - - - 92 - 1 Green Thoughts
"House We Used to Live In" - - - - - 14
"Drown in My Own Tears" - - - - - 34
1989 "A Girl Like You" 62 - - 38 3 2 11
1990 "Blues Before and After" - - - 94 18 7
"Yesterday Girl" 76 - - - 16 20
"Blue Period" (with Belinda Carlisle) - - 99 - - -
1991 "Top of the Pops" 58 - - - 2 19 Blow Up
"Tell Me When Did Things Go So Wrong" - - - - 11 28
1992 "Too Much Passion" 22 33 - 37 - -
1994 "Miles From Nowhere" - - - - - 17 A Date with the Smithereens
"Sick Of Seattle"[12] - - - - - -
"Everything I Have Is Blue"[13] - - - - - -
"Time Won't Let Me"[14] - - - - - - Timecop (Soundtrack)
1998 "Downbound Train" - - - - - - One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen
2011 "Sorry"[15] - - - - - - 2011
"One Look At You"[16] - - - - - -


  • Smithereens 10, 1991


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Smithereens | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  2. ^ Smith, Laurie Anne (November 16, 2007). "Smithereens Interview". SugarBuzz. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
  3. ^ Cahillane, Kevin (2004-10-10). "Not Fade Away: The Smithereens' Monument to Persistence". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-03. The band formed in 1980 when three Carteret High School graduates (class of 1975) and childhood friends (Mr. Babjak, Dennis Diken on drums and Mike Mesaros on bass) met Pat DiNizio, a Scotch Plains singer-songwriter-garbage man. 
  4. ^ a b Morse, Steve (April 21, 1988). "Smithereens – '60s pop for the '80s". The Boston Globe. Boston, MA. Retrieved December 19, 2016.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  5. ^ "Class of Nuke 'Em High". The Film Catalogue. Independent Film and Television Alliance. 2016. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
  6. ^ ""Class of Nuke 'Em High" Soundtrack Finally Gets Official LP Release" (Press release). Troma Entertainment. July 22, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
  7. ^ "The Smithereens to play closing show at Kenny's Castaways". Pat DiNizio. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  9. ^ Jordan, Chris (5 October 2016). "Original Smithereens to reunite for memorial concert". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  10. ^ Jordan, Chris (19 Jan 2017). "The Smithereens: Carteret connection complete with Mesaros". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  11. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Smithereens - Too Much Passion". Archived from the original on September 3, 2015. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  12. ^ "The Smithereens - Sick Of Seattle (Vinyl)". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  13. ^ "The Smithereens - Everything I Have Is Blue (CD)s". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  14. ^ "The Smithereens - Time Won't Let Me (From The Motion Picture "Timecop")". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  15. ^ "The return of the Smithereens!". The Smithereens Official Website. 
  16. ^ "One Look At You". The Smithereens Official Website. 

External links[edit]