- Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger died Wednesday from complications with COVID-19. He was 52.
- Schlesinger was a prolific songwriter, with Grammy and Emmy wins to his name as well as nominations at the Oscars and the Tonys.
- Schlesinger’s first hit came writing the namesake track for the film “That Thing You Do!” – a success he would see again years later with Fountains of Wayne with the song “Stacy’s Mum.”
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Adam Schlesinger, a cofounder of the power-pop group Fountains of Wayne who was a prolific songwriter for both movies and television, died Wednesday at 52 from complications with COVID-19.
His death was confirmed to multiple outlets by his lawyer Josh Grier.
Schlesinger had a unique and active career as a musician, both with his multiple projects as well as behind the scenes as a songwriter.
His first great success came with writing the title track for the 1996 film “That Thing You Do!”
Schlesinger was put to the difficult task of writing a Beatles-esque song of the ’60s that could believably skyrocket a small-town band to international fame. With an undeniable hook, bright guitars, and heartfelt lyrics, he succeeded.
The song was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe that year. Tom Hanks, who directed and starred in the film, paid tribute to Schlesinger on Twitter.
There would be no Playtone without Adam Schlesinger, without his That Thing You Do! He was a One-der. Lost him to Covid-19. Terribly sad today. Hanx
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) April 2, 2020
Beyond his work on the film, Schlesinger also had plenty of success as a musician himself. In 1995, he formed Fountains of Wayne alongside Chris Collingwood and would go on to release five albums until the group disbanded in 2013. Schlesinger also played in the band Ivy, which put out six more records during a similar span.
He also briefly played with the supergroup Tinted Windows from 2009 to 2011, alongside the guitarist James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, the singer Taylor Hanson of Hanson, and the drummer Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick.
Schlesinger’s biggest hit came in 2003 with the release of “Stacy’s Mum” with Fountains of Wayne, which hit No. 21 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and brought with it a wildly popular music video. The group earned two Grammy nominations that year.
Schlesinger also found great success writing music for television later in his career. He won Emmys in back-to-back years for his work on the opening song of the 2011 Tony Awards, “It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore,” and the closing number of the 2012 Tony Awards, “If I Had Time.”
Working as a composer and executive music producer for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Schlesinger won a third Emmy for outstanding original music and lyrics for “Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal.” He also won a Grammy for his work on Stephen Colbert’s “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All” in 2009.
At the news of Schlesinger’s death, artists from around the world paid their respects.
adam schlesinger took pop music writing to its classiest and most untouchable place. an honor to live at the same time he made his work.
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) April 1, 2020
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
I am grasping for the right words. My dear friend Adam Schlesinger has passed away from COVID-19. You know him best through his music. From his band @fountainsofwayn to the countless movies and tv shows he scored, most recently My Crazy Ex Girlfriend (cont’d) pic.twitter.com/to8H4IoLtj
— Dashboard Confessional (@dashboardmusic) April 1, 2020
Tony-nominee Adam Schlesinger (Cry-Baby) wrote memorable #TonyAwards numbers “It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore,” “If Life Were More Like Theatre” & “If I Had Time” with David Javerbaum, winning 2 #Emmys for his Tonys work. He has died of Covid19 at age 52. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/lHR50hn4rJ
— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) April 2, 2020
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