The Smithereens at XPoNential Music Festival 2011

Singer, guitarist and songwriter Pat DiNizio — the leader of New Jersey rock and roll favorites The Smithereens — passed away Tuesday night. He was 62 years old.

DiNizio’s bandmates Jimmy Babjak, Mike Mesaros and Dennis Diken shared the news in the early morning hours on the band’s official Facebook page

Today we mourn the loss of our friend, brother and bandmate Pat DiNizio.

Pat had the magic touch. He channeled the essence of joy and heartbreak into hook-laden three minute pop songs, infused with a lifelong passion for rock & roll.

Our journey with Pat was long, storied and a hell of a lot of fun. We grew up together. Little did we know that we wouldn’t grow old together.

Goodbye Pat. Seems like yesterday.

Founded in Carteret, N.J., in 1980, the band gigged along the east coast and sharpened its Beatles-indebted pop/rock chops until making their label debut in 1986 with Especially for You and its single “Blood and Roses.” They released eleven albums over the course of their career and had hits in “Only A Memory” from 1988’s Green Thoughts, “A Girl Like You” and “Blues Before and After” from 1990’s 11, as well as others.

After a break in the early thousands to pursue individual projects, The Smithereens regrouped to release Meet the Smithereens!, a song-for-song cover of Meet The Beatles!. The band appeared live on World Cafe to play songs from the project and chat about it with host David Dye; listen below.

Their next album of original material was 2011, release in the year the record was named for; the band also appeared on the XPoNential Music Festival lineup that summer, preceded by a Free at Noon performance which you can listen to in full below.