My old pal John Fox (he’s the editor of Cincinnati Magazine now, but he used to visit the 97X studios when he was editor of Everybody’s News) commented on my last post about the death of the lead singer of the Smithereens, Pat DiNizio:
Great tribute, Damian. I was a huge Smithereens fan. There was a time from the early 80s to the early 90s when I delighted in finding cool new bands, pre-internet. Some hit the big time (REM, The Cure), when I sort of lost interest, and many toiled in the shadows of occasional MTV and 97X fame that was good enough for me, and the Smithereens were in that category. There was an even smaller category of bands where I thought maybe I was the only person who appreciated them, and we lost one of those guys in recent weeks. Tommy Keene died November 22 at age 59. He was from Maryland and was big on the east coast for a while; here’s a great tribute in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.
Thanks, John, for shining the spotlight on Tommy Keene. He certainly deserved more of a spotlight while he was with us. I was vaguely familiar with his work, but I’ve spent the past couple of days going through his catalog of tunes and it’s rife with power-pop gems. And he played with Velvet Crush, a band that also falls into the “brilliant yet criminally overlooked” category.
Dave Holmes also did a nice tribute to Tommy in Esquire. This paragraph sums things up quite nicely for folks like us who appreciate the under-the-radar folks:
A great artist can make you feel like he’s speaking directly to you. That’s how Tommy Keene made me feel for the last 31 years, and at the end of the day—and it is the end of the day—it doesn’t matter whether ten or ten million other people had that same feeling. What matters is that we did.