Adam Schlesinger, singer-songwriter of Fountains of Wayne and Ivy and award-winning second career writing songs for film, theater and television, has passed away. He was 52. Schlesinger passed on Wednesday due to complications from COVID-19.
Schlesinger carved out his career beginnings with songwriting partner Chris Collingwood in Fountains of Wayne, who released five studio albums between 1996 and 2011. The band spawned a slew of hits, including the generation-defining Grammy-nominated earworm ‘Stacey’s Mom’.
In addition to his work with Fountains of Wayne, Schlesinger released six albums with the band Ivy, was a member of Tinted Windows (a power-pop supergroup with Taylor Hanson of Hanson, Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick and James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins) and the synth-pop band Fever High.
Schlesinger conquered the songwriting realm in theatre, television and cinema. He wrote the theme song for the Tom Hanks-directed 1996 film That Thing You Do!, which earned him a nomination for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. He also won three Emmy Awards for his musical contributions to the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
In 2008, Schlesinger penned the music for the 2008 Broadway hit Cry-Baby, alongside David Javerbaum, based on the John Water’s film of the same name. His work on the musical earned a Tony nomination for best original score.
Before his passing, Schlesinger was working with Sarah Silverman on a stage production of her memoir The Bedwetter. The performance was set to hit Atlantic Theater Company stage this month but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schlesinger’s contemporaries and collaborators have taken to social media to pay tribute to the late musician.
“Adam, you were a brilliant songwriter, musician, collaborator and friend,” shared David Javerbaum, “You enriched millions of lives with your boundless creativity, none more than mine.”
Adam, you were a brilliant songwriter, musician, collaborator and friend.
Gorgeous melodies spun out of you like silk through a loom.
You enriched millions of lives with your boundless creativity, none more than mine.
Thank you Adam.
I love you.https://t.co/QBJh0RWDp5
— David Javerbaum (@davidjaverbaum) 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
Adam Schlesinger’s “That Thing You Do” is an amazing song, but don’t sleep on the fake Wham! number he wrote for the opening of Music and Lyrics.
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) April 1, 2020
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
a few years ago i noticed adam schlesinger followed me, i did the uncool move of DMing to say i'd been a fan since i was a kid – from that thing you do, josie soundtrack, fountains of wayne, more. he messaged back, couldn't have been more encouraging + kind. RIP to a songs hero
— speedy ortiz haunted presence? (@sad13) April 1, 2020
much to be said about Adam Schlesinger's songwriting but I think often about how That Thing You Do is not just one of the great (or, the greatest) Fictional Song From A Movie, but also one of the most fun pop songs of its real-life era. It lived so well both on screen & off it.
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) April 1, 2020