In 2015, Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens self-published a book, “Confessions of a Rock Star: 30 Crazy Years in the Big Bad Business of Rock & Roll With the Leader of America’s Greatest Band ‘The Smithereens.’ ” It was first written in 2008, then adapted into a one-man stage show that DiNizio performed in Las Vegas in late 2011 and throughout 2012. He sold the book at shows, and online, but it never got wide distribution.
Its 156 pages — written with Matt Hader, and edited by Todd Sinclair — are devoted to stories about his life and extremely detailed discussions about his Smithereens and solo music, plus other topics, including the way the music industry has changed in recent years, and the death of Johnny Ramone.
Pat — who died this week, at the age of 62 — gave me a copy of the book after a show at Crossroads in Garwood, where he was selling it along with other merchandise. I guess he hoped I would write about it. I never did (though I wrote a lot about him), until now.
I’d like to share a passage from DiNizio’s foreword to the book that, I think, really sums up who he was, and what he was all about. I find it particularly relevant now, because it has become apparent, after his death — and the outpouring of grief that has followed — how many people felt a very personal bond with him. I don’t think, after any other musician or celebrity has died, that so many people have referred to that person as “my friend.”
There seems to be, with so many artists, the unwillingness to be truthful about what it is they do and how they go about doing it. Maybe they feel the need to preserve a sense of mystery. Some of these celebrities, it seems to me, must surround themselves with a certain aura of mystery so that the fans and those who support them will find them more intriguing and interesting.
I have no such desire. I feel that what I do is of no greater importance than what my friend Vinnie the butcher does for a living, or the guy who delivers the mail. It’s just an extension of my belief that any job worth doing is worth doing well. That philosophy also extends into my reasons for doing living room concerts; of involving the audience, of visiting with people and bringing my music into the homes of people I’ve never met before. It’s a tremendous leap of faith by both parties to do a living room concert. This “involving the audience” philosophy of mine is about breaking down the walls and barriers that traditionally have separated artists and audience — by design or by necessity, or by what have you.
With The Smithereens we were always lucky to have a fan base that was basically looking into a mirror whenever they came to see us play. For good luck or bad, any of those audience members could have been standing there on stage with us holding a guitar. Any one of them could’ve been a Smithereen. We were a lot like, if not identical to, those audience members who gave us a career. What I do, for better or worse, has that populist quality to it. When I’m on stage — wherever I am — I’m the local guy who made good. — Pat DiNizio
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