Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger Dies from Coronavirus

The award-winning musician and songwriter was 52

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 1, 2020

Adam Schlesinger, a musician and songwriter known best as a member of Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, has died of coronavirus complications. He was 52.

Schlesinger's passing was confirmed by his lawyer, Josh Grier [via the New York Times]. The news follows reports from earlier this week that the musician had been hospitalized in March and was "on a ventilator and [had] been sedated."

Born in 1967, Schlesinger co-founded Ivy in 1994 ahead of releasing the band's debut album, Realistic, in 1995. That same year, he co-founded Fountains of Wayne with college classmate Chris Collingwood, naming the band after a lawn ornament store in Wayne, New Jersey.

Fountains of Wayne made their debut with a self-titled full-length album in 1996 and followed that with the release of sophomore LP Utopia Parkway in 1999. The release would be the band's last on Atlantic Records before being dropped by the label that same year. While Schlesinger continued to write songs for film and television, Fountains of Wayne's inactivity proved to be hard on Collingwood.

As he told American Songwriter in 2005, Schlesinger urged his bandmate to keep writing and recording material "because it was the only way that I could get Chris to want to be a part of it. I was just like, 'Hey look, let's just go in and do like we have always done when we were 18. If we have a song we like, we'll just record it and eventually we'll see if we have an album."

Fountains of Wayne soon began work on material for what would become 2003's Welcome Interstate Managers with no label support. As drummer Brian Young recounted to Modern Drummer, "Adam put up the money to do the recording, we converged in a studio in upstate New York, and we didn't know what to expect. We all showed up with basically nothing. I had a stick bag, and the engineer mentioned to me, 'You know, it would've been a lot cooler if you showed up with nothing at all.' We were kind of going through the studio basement, looking for gear and taping stands together. It was funny."

Fountains of Wayne would then sign to S-Curve records to release Welcome Interstate Managers in June 2003. The album spawned the band's best-known song, "Stacy's Mom," a Grammy-nominated single Schlesinger and Collingwood wrote "about that period when you're first hitting puberty and suddenly everybody of the opposite sex is strangely attractive."

"One of my best friends, when we were maybe 11 or 12, came to me and announced that he thought my grandmother was hot," Schlesinger recalled to MTV in 2003. "And I said, 'Hey, you're stepping over the line,' but at that point in life, I wouldn't put it past anyone."

Schlesinger described the song's accompanying video, directed by by Chris Applebaum, as "a fairly literal and yet very over-the-top interpretation of the song," ramping up the sexual innuendo and starring model Rachel Hunter in the title role.

"Yeah, we didn't really hold back at all," Schlesinger told MTV of the video. "We looked at a lot of treatments and some directors were trying to be kind of arty and subtle with it, but Chris Applebaum went completely for the jugular."

Fountains of Wayne would go on to release two more full-length albums: 2007's Traffic and Weather and 2011's Sky Full of Holes. Schlesinger's final album with Ivy was 2011's All Hours. Schlesinger was also a member of James Iha's Tinted Windows and also appeared on the Smashing Pumpkins guitarist's 2012 solo album Look to the Sky.

Schlesinger's work for screen and stage captured him three Emmys, in addition to Oscar and Golden Globe nominations (for his original title song from 1996 film That Thing You Do), and Tony nominations for the musical Cry-Baby. He also wrote the theme song for scripted comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, on which he also served as executive music producer.
Schlesinger's credits also include writing eight songs for Stephen Colbert's TV special A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! Recently, he had collaborated with Sarah Silverman on a musical adaption of her book The Bedwetter, a production that was slated at the Atlantic Theater Company this spring.

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