Adam Schlesinger, the co-founder of power pop band Fountains Of Wayne and prolific songwriter who wrote for film, theater and television, has died of complications caused by coronavirus. The musician, who had been nominated for Grammys, Tonys, Oscars and Emmys, was 52.
Schlesinger’s attorney, Josh Grier, told Variety on Tuesday that the musician had been “very sick and heavily sedated” at a hospital in upstate New York, and he had been there for more than a week at that time.
Schlesinger grew up in Manhattan and Montclair, New Jersey. He co-founded Fountains of Wayne, a power pop band whose sound was inspired by the likes of Big Star & The Cars, with Chris Collingwood in 1995; the band was named after a lawn ornament store in Wayne, NJ. The group, in which Schlesinger played bass, released five studio albums between 1996 and 2011; they were nominated for two Grammys in 2003, including one for their hit single “Stacy’s Mom.”
In addition to Fountains of Wayne and his two other bands, Ivy and Tinted Windows, Schlesinger had a wide and diverse range of outlets for his musical talents. He was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for co-writing the theme song for the Tom Hanks-directed film That Thing You Do! He co-writing many songs for My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, alongside creator Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen; he was nominated for multiple Emmys for the show, ultimately winning one in 2018 for the song “Antidepressants Are So Not A Big Deal.” He also won two Emmys for co-writing songs sung by Neil Patrick Harris at 65th and 66th Tony Awards.
Schlesinger and David Javerbaum received two Tony nominations in 2008 Best Musical and Best Original Score for the Broadway musical Cry-Baby, based on 1990 John Waters’s film. The two also won a Grammy for best comedy album for their work on A Stephen Colbert Christmas. He also wrote for movies and shows including Music & Lyrics, Josie And The Pussycats, There’s Something About Mary, Scary Movie, Sesame Street, Too Late With Adam Carolla, The Howard Stern Radio Show, and The Dana Carvey Show.
He had recently collaborated with Sarah Silverman on his first full stage score for the off-Broadway musical, The Bedwetter; it was supposed to open this spring, but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. He had also reunited with his Crazy Ex-Girlfriend collaborator Bloom to write songs for a musical adaptation of the TV show The Nanny.
Rolling Stone has a tribute to Schlesinger picking out 20 of his greatest songs. You can see some tributes to Schlesinger below.
Raising my head above water to say that I’m grieving Adam Schlesinger. I know so many people who knew him much better than I did, and I’m grieving for them as well. Love to you all in trying times.
— Ted Leo (@tedleo) April 1, 2020
So sad to hear the news of Adam Schlesinger’s passing. A prolific and skilled songwriter with so many more songs to share. That Thing You Do is a masterwork and I just recently revisited Fountains of Wayne’s epic record Welcome Interstate Managers. So sad. May he rest in peace.
— John Gallagher, Jr. (@JohnGallagherJr) April 1, 2020
Oh god. Adam Schlesinger was wildly talented. He graciously wrote the theme song to my “KATHY” talk show called “I’ll say it” He was so patient with me as I was recording it in the booth, guiding me at every step. He did the gig as a favor, in a little home studio on a Saturday💔 https://t.co/SpTdcoBIco
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) April 1, 2020
This is horrifying. Adam played piano at our wedding and we just saw him recently for the first time in many years. Such an incredibly sweet and talented guy. Unreal. https://t.co/tlBWoq7otE
— Joy Press (@Joypress) April 1, 2020
There are no words. Adam was a really good friend, and one of the most insanely talented people I’ve ever met. Please enjoy his incredible music, and hug your loved ones close tonight. https://t.co/qabhzMvQ62
— Tim Long (@mrtimlong) April 1, 2020
Thinking of Adam Schlesinger. Thinking of his family, his friends, his talent. How fucked all of this is.
Everyone’s talking about Fountains of Wayne and his iconic work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but he also wrote one of the all-time greatest movie songs. https://t.co/XAIhmgMOTc
— Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman) March 31, 2020
This Schlesinger news is beyond crushing. His music has given so much joy to the world, and the only comfort is that it will long outlast this tsunami of misery that brought him down.
— Scott Tobias (@scott_tobias) April 1, 2020
Week after week, he helped (along Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen) write two to three songs for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that had to serve as genre parodies and move the plot along. Every song was always perfect. I think this was my favorite. https://t.co/2yjbymsB6o
— Michael Tedder (@mtedder) April 1, 2020