Emmy and Grammy-winning musician and songwriter Adam Schlesinger, known for his work with his band Fountains of Wayne and on the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, died Wednesday after contracting the coronavirus.
Schlesinger died at a hospital in upstate New York, his longtime lawyer Josh Grier told The Associated Press. It is not clear where or how Schlesinger, a 51-year-old father of two daugthers, contracted the virus. He had been sedated and on a ventilator for several days.
Schlesinger was nominated for 10 Emmys for writing comical songs across several television shows, winning three.
He was also nominated for an Academy Award for writing the title song for the 1997 movie “That Thing You Do,” written and directed by Tom Hanks. The snappy pop ditty was the fictional one hit for a Beatles-esque band called the One-ders, later changed to the Wonders, on a label called Playtone, a name Hanks adopted for his production company.
“There would be no Playtone without Adam Schlesinger, without his ‘That Thing You Do!’” Hanks, who is himself recovering from the coronavirus, said on Twitter. “He was a One-der. Lost him to Covid-19. Terribly sad today.”
Raised in New York and Montclair, New Jersey, Schlesinger formed Fountains of Wayne, named for a lawn ornament store in Wayne, New Jersey, in 1995 with his classmate from Williams College in Massachusetts, Chris Collingwood.
With Schlesinger playing bass and singing backup and Collingwood playing guitar and singing lead, and the two men co-writing songs, the band known for its sunny harmonies and synthesis of pop, rock punk and comedy would have hits in 1996 with “Radiation Vibe” and 2003 with “Stacy’s Mom.” The latter was nominated for a Grammy.
The band was more New Jersey than New York. While most rock bands live for the city, Fountains of Wayne and Schlesinger’s writing embraced the suburbs with finely-etched tales of lives like a floor installer who’s convinced his crush will come back looking for him and a commuter who’s sure about his “Bright Future in Sales.”
“That’s a real Randy Newman thing,” Schlesinger told the AP in 2003. “That’s a trademark of his writing that I was always amazed by — the sort of unaware narrator, where you learn more about him than he does himself inside of a few verses.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on Twitter that Schlesinger’s death is a “sad, sad loss for Jersey’s music scene.”
Stephen King, Fran Drescher and many others were also singing his praises on social media.