Diken, Babjak, and DiNizio in 2009
|Origin||Carteret, New Jersey, U.S.|
|Genres||Alternative rock, power pop, college rock, hard rock|
|Past members||Pat DiNizio|
The Smithereens are an American rock band from Carteret, New Jersey, United States. 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 original lineup continued until 2006, when Mesaros left the band and Severo Jornacion took over on bass guitar until Mesaros' return in 2016. After DiNizio died in 2017, the band continued performing live shows as a trio (Babjak, Mesaros and Diken) with various guest vocalists.
The band are perhaps best known for a string of hits in the late 1980s through the mid 1990s, including "Only a Memory", "A Girl Like You" and "Too Much Passion". The Smithereens have collaborated with numerous musicians, both in the studio (Belinda Carlisle, Julian Lennon, Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega) 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!"
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. 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.
The band's name derives from the cartoon character Yosemite Sam who had the expression, "Ya better say your prayers, ya flea-bitten varmint … I’m-a-gonna blow ya to smithereenies!". 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).
Along with a basic East coast roots-rock sound that owed much to musicians who inspired 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." Likewise, The Who and The Kinks were major influences on Babjak and Diken.
The title and lyrics of their song, "In a Lonely Place," appear to be based on the 1950 Humphrey Bogart film of the same title 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.
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". The soundtrack to the film was not released until 2014.
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....
The basic tracks for their most recent studio album of original material, titled 2011, were recorded in early October 2010 and the album was released on April 5, 2011.
DiNizio died in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, on December 12, 2017, at the age of 62. According to bandmates, his health declined following a series of issues that began in 2015, resulting in nerve damage that limited the use of his right hand and arm.
The surviving members of the band, including Mesaros, performed together as The Smithereens in a tribute show to DiNizio on January 13, 2018 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. In a five-hour concert, the band was joined by Steven Van Zandt, Dave Davies, Ted Leo, Robin Wilson, Lenny Kaye, Southside Johnny, Marshall Crenshaw, Bebe Buell, Richard Barone, Tony Shanahan, Graham Maby, Freedy Johnston, John Jorgenson, Peter Zaremba, Keith Streng, producer Ed Stasium, Andy Burton, and various other musicians. The Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship was established at the Count Basie's Performing Arts Academy.
In 2018, Babjak, Diken and Mesaros decided to continue the band's musical legacy and tour with different guest vocalists, including Marshall Crenshaw and Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms, separately taking over lead vocal duties at concerts throughout the United States, including shows in NYC, Chicago, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Virginia.
On May 25, 2018, the band released Covers on Sunset Blvd. Records, featuring 22 of the band's favorite songs first recorded by other artists. The CD includes rarities from the vault and some previously unreleased tracks.
On November 16, 2018, The Smithereens were nominated for induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, Performing Arts Category, Class of 2018.
2019 marks The Smithereens' 39th continuous year as a band.
- Jim Babjak - lead guitar, backing vocals (1980–present)
- Dennis Diken - drums, percussion, backing vocals (1980–present)
- Mike Mesaros - bass guitar, backing vocals (1980-2005, 2016, 2017–present)
- Pat DiNizio - lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1980-2017)
- Severo "The Thrilla" Jornacion - bass guitar, backing vocals (2005-2017)
- Especially for You, 1986 (Enigma, Capitol) US #51, UK INDIE #5
- Green Thoughts, 1988 (Enigma, Capitol) US #60, UK INDIE #7
- 11, 1989 (Enigma, Capitol) US #41
- Blow Up, 1991 (Capitol) US #120
- A Date with The Smithereens, 1994 (RCA, BMG) US #133
- God Save The Smithereens, 1999 (Velvel, Koch)
- Meet The Smithereens!, 2007 (Koch)
- Christmas with The Smithereens, 2007 (Koch)
- B-Sides The Beatles, 2008 (Koch)
- The Smithereens Play Tommy, 2009 (eOne Music)
- 2011, 2011 (eOne Music)
- The Smithereens Play The Beatles Washington, D.C. February 11, 1964 Concert, 2014 (Not on Label)
- Girls About Town, 1980 (D-Tone Records)
- Beauty and Sadness, 1983 (Little Ricky Records, Enigma, Capitol)
- Live, 1988 (Restless)
- Instant Live: Music Midtown Festival Atlanta, GA 5/1/04, 2005 (Instant Live Recordings)
- Extended Versions, 2006 (Sony BMG)
- Live in Concert! Greatest Hits and More, 2008 (Koch)
- Blown to Smithereens: Best of The Smithereens, 1995 (Capitol)
- Attack of The Smithereens, 1995 (Capitol)
- The Best of The Smithereens, 1997 (EMI, Capitol)
- From Jersey It Came! The Smithereens Anthology, 2004 (Capitol)
- Greatest Hits...Revisited, 2010 (Not on Label)
- Especially for You - 30th Anniversary, 2016 (Not on Label)
- Covers, 2018 (Sunset Blvd Records)
Soundtracks and other appearances
- The East Coast 60's Rock & Roll Experiment, 1986 (Performance) – "Hang 'Em High (Hang Ten High)"
- Dangerously Close (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1986 (Enigma) – "Blood and Roses", "Some Other Guy"
- Burglar (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1987 (MCA) – "Some Other Guy"
- I Was a Teenage Zombie (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1987 (Capitol) – "Time and Time Again"
- Under the Boardwalk (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1988 (Enigma) – "Blood and Roses"
- Encino Man (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1992 (Hollywood) – "Wooly Bully"
- Timecop (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1994 (RCA) – "Time Won't Let Me" (not included on soundtrack album)
- Fast Track to Nowhere: Songs from the Showtime Original Series Rebel Highway, 1994 (A&M) – "The Stroll"
- Brace Yourself! A Tribute to Otis Blackwell, 1994 (Shanachie) – "Let's Talk About Us"
- Resurrection of the Warlock - A Tribute to Marc Bolan & T-Rex, 1995 (The Old School Records) – "The Slider"
- Classic Rockin' Christmas, 1993 (Koch) – "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer"
- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, 1997 (The Right Stuff) – "Downbound Train"
- Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1997 (Hollywood) – "Blood and Roses"
- Boys Don't Cry (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1999 (Koch) – "She's Got a Way"
- Burnzy's Last Call (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 1999 (Ripe & Ready/Cellsum Records) – "I Don't Want to Look Into the Mirror"
- A Tribute to the King, 2002 (Capitol) – "Don't Be Cruel (Live)"
- Songs from the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison, 2003 (Koch) – "I Want To Tell You"
- Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 2004 (Razor & Tie) – "White Castle Blues"
- Rockin' Christmas, 2005 (Sony BMG) – "Waking Up on Christmas Morning"
- The Sandinista! Project - A Tribute to the Clash, 2007 (00:02:59 Records) – "Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)"
- Class of Nuke 'Em High (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), 2014 (Ship to Shore PhonoCo.) – "Much Too Much"
|Year||Song||Canada||NZ||UK||UK Indie Chart||US Hot 100||US Modern Rock||US Mainstream Rock||Album|
|1986||"Blood and Roses"||-||-||-||-||-||-||14||Especially for You|
|"Behind the Wall of Sleep"||-||-||-||8||-||-||23|
|"In a Lonely Place"||-||-||-||5||-||-||-|
|1987||"Strangers When We Meet"||-||-||-||21||-||-||-|
|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|
|"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|
|"Too Much Passion"||22||33||-||-||37||-||-|
|"Girl in Room 12" (Radio promo)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1992||"Get a Hold of My Heart" (Radio promo)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" (Radio promo)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||Non-album single|
|1994||"Miles From Nowhere"||-||-||-||-||-||-||17||A Date with the Smithereens|
|"Sick Of Seattle" (Radio promo)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Everything I Have Is Blue (Gtr. Mix)" (Radio promo)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Time Won't Let Me" (from the Motion Picture Timecop)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||Non-album single|
|1998||"Downbound Train"||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen|
|1999||"She's Got a Way" (Radio promo)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||God Save The Smithereens|
|"One Look At You"||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
- Smithereens 10, 1991
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Smithereens | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- Smith, Laurie Anne (November 16, 2007). "Smithereens Interview". SugarBuzz. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- Cahillane, Kevin (October 10, 2004). "Not Fade Away: The Smithereens' Monument to Persistence". The New York Times. Retrieved November 3, 2007.
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.
- Morse, Steve (April 21, 1988). "Smithereens – '60s pop for the '80s". The Boston Globe. Boston, MA. Archived from the original on December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2016. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- "Class of Nuke 'Em High". The Film Catalogue. Independent Film and Television Alliance. 2016. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- ""Class of Nuke 'Em High" Soundtrack Finally Gets Official LP Release" (Press release). Troma Entertainment. July 22, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- "The Smithereens to play closing show at Kenny's Castaways". Pat DiNizio. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Jordan, Chris (October 5, 2016). "Original Smithereens to reunite for memorial concert". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
- Jordan, Chris (January 19, 2017). "The Smithereens: Carteret connection complete with Mesaros". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
- Slotnik, Daniel E. (December 13, 2017). "Pat DiNizio, Singer and Songwriter for the Smithereens, Dies at 62". The New York Times.
- Angermiller, Michele Amabile (January 15, 2018). "Steven Van Zandt, Kinks' Dave Davies Pay Tribute to Smithereens' Pat Dinizio". Variety. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
- "» New shows with Marshall Crenshaw announced". officialsmithereens.com. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
- "The Smithereens Discography on Discogs, Appearances". Discogs.com. Retrieved on 9 September 2018.
- Steffen Hung. "The Smithereens - Too Much Passion". charts.nz. Retrieved 2014-07-27.
- "The Smithereens - Girl in Room 12". Discogs.com. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
- "The Smithereens - Get a Hold of My Heart". Discogs.com. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
- "The Smithereens - Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer". Discogs.com. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
- "The Smithereens - Sick Of Seattle (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- "The Smithereens - Everything I Have Is Blue (CD)s". Discogs.com. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- "The Smithereens - Time Won't Let Me (From The Motion Picture "Timecop")". Discogs.com. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
- "She's Got a Way". Rate Your Music. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
- "The return of the Smithereens!". The Smithereens Official Website.
- "One Look At You". The Smithereens Official Website.
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