The Smithereens’ Jim Babjak remembers bandmate Pat DiNizio
Smithereens lead guitarist and co-founder Jim Babjak, like the rest of us, was taken completely by surprise at the passing of lead singer Pat DiNizio. He says he found out when he "got a call from one of [DiNizio's] caretakers." His first thoughts upon hearing: "Wow, it's a total reversal of what I thought was going to happen because we had some shows booked in New York and Phillly for January and February." We talked so early that it was still sinking in, "People are asking what are you going to do and I can't go there yet. I'm still going to be playing guitar so we'll see."
Babjak talked about the old days of creating the Smithereens sound. "We were either stupid or just in denial," Babjak says they had a lot of spirit. "It took five or six years to get signed and then we're on the radio amongst Michael Jackson and Madonna and we really didn't fit in. Then one day on tour I go into a record store and see the alternative section and I'm thinking what the hell's alternative? I thought we were a rock band!" It was their spirit that propelled them. "We had the spirit, we stuck to our guns and wrote songs that we liked. We didn't care what was the trend, we just did what we wanted to do."
The Smithereens musical influence covered a wide range. "Pat was into Black Sabbath and Jeff Beck and more heavy metal stuff while at the same time Elvis, Buddy Holly. I was into the Beatles and the Who. Plus '60s and '70s radio. Add Mad Magazine [which influenced] our sense of humor, Christ I wrote a song about White Castle Hamburgers." Babjak is in the White Castle Hall of Fame.
Babjak also told a story about how they trashed a hotel room, "we were just joking around a little bit but we had to leave Canada." As for the 'Meet The Beatles' cover album, "I was a little scared but we did it and it ended up getting a two page feature in the New York Times weekend section and all of a sudden people were like 'Hey it's good to see you back together,' but you know what? We never left, we've always been playing, we never skipped a month until recently."
How will Jim Babjak remember Pat DiNizio, "my wife used to say he had the voice that could make a woman's heart melt. He had the voice that we were looking for. We got a great lead singer and a great songwriter and together we created this legacy that will be there long after we're gone."
Editor's note: Babjak's name is spelled incorrectly in the video above, we apologize for this error.
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