Union County News

Scotch Plains Weighing Options to Honor Hometown Hero Pat DiNizio

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Pat DiNizio often played in Scotch Plains at the St. Bart's Italian Festival and at the Scotch Plains Summer Concert Series at the Augustine Green outside the Municipal Building.   Credits: John Mooney
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2015 SPFHS Hall of Fame (L/R): *Reggie Hammonds (Jeffrey Hammonds' older brother), Keith Lippert, Dr. David Heisey, Pat DiNizio, Malcolm Nettingham and Laura DiFrancesco Swidersky.  Credits: Sean Conklin
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Pat DiNizio, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Class of 1973, was best known as the front man for the rock band The Smithereens, which he formed in 1980. Credits: Sean Conklin
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Township Manager Al Mirabella said Tuesday that Scotch Plains is considering several options to honot local music legend Pat DiNizio, who died on Dec. 12. Credits: Courtesy of Al Mirabella
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Pat DiNizio was the founder, principal songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist for The Smithereens and a successful solo performer.
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SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Township of Scotch Plains is looking at several different ways to honor native son Pat DiNizio, the local music legend who rose to fame with his band, The Smithereens, during the 1980s.

DiNizio, who died unexpectedly on Dec. 12, was proud of his roots in the community and was a 2015 inductee into the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Hall of Fame (Class of 1973). His group, The Smithereens, featured DiNizio on vocals and guitar, Jim Babjak (guitar and vocals), Mike Mesaros (bass and vocals) and Dennis Diken (drums). The band was best known for the hit songs "Only a Memory" and “A Girl Like You,” which peaked at #38 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

"There are a few ideas of things we can do, including possibly naming a street after him," said Township Manager Al Mirabella in an interview with TAPintoSPF. “Pat was a personal friend. He never missed an opportunity to say how proud he was of his home town of Scotch Plains."

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DiNizio ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2000. In 2006, he starred with other rock stars including Joan Jett in the ESPN 2 special “7th Inning Stretch Baseball Meets Rock & Roll,” which highlighted his recovery from a life-threatening nervous disorder. 

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