Emmy-winning songwriter Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne dies of coronavirus at 52

Emmy and Grammy winning musician Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of the band Fountains of Wayne, died Wednesday due to coronavirus complications at a hospital in upstate New York, his longtime attorney, Josh Grier, confirmed to USA TODAY. He was 52.

He had been sedated and on a ventilator for several days, Grier told the AP. 

Fran Drescher, who was developing “The Nanny” musical on Broadway with Schlesinger, wrote on Instagram: “We will miss you …. Devasted😥😭😩 My prayers are for you. May peace be with you.”

The songwriter formed the power-pop group Fountains of Wayne, playing bass, with Chris Collingwood, who played guitar and sang lead vocals, in 1995. The band was named after a lawn ornament store in Wayne, N.J., near Schlesinger’s Montclair hometown. The 2003 hit  “Stacy’s Mom,” which had a music video featuring model Rachel Hunter, was the band’s most popular song.

He received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for writing the theme song to the 1996 Tom Hanks-directed movie “That Thing You Do!” Hanks referenced the movie’s fictional Playtone Record Label paying tribute on Twitter.

“There would be no Playtone without Adam Schlesinger,” wrote Hanks. “He was a One-der. Lost him to Covid-19. Terribly sad today.”

Schlesinger won two Emmys for parody songs written for the 2012 and 2013 Tony Awards telecasts, and won another last year for co-writing “Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal” for Rachel Bloom’s CW series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” His other television and film credits include “Sesame Street,” “Music and Lyrics” and “Shallow Hal.”

Schlesinger was also nominated for two Tony Awards, including best musical, for the 2008 Broadway show “Cry-Baby,” an adaptation of the John Waters comedy starring Johnny Depp.

He won the 2009 Grammy for best comedy album for writing the songs on “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!” a companion to a TV Christmas special with songs performed by Stephen Colbert and Elvis Costello.

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna remembered longtime friend Schlesinger in a Twitter tribute about his genius and their relationship, calling him “the most brilliant, the most funny, the most clever, the most musical.” She also shared a clip of the musician singing a “perfect” demo for their show. 

Schlesinger, the cousin of “The Walking Dead” actor Jon Bernthal, had two daughters.

Fountains of Wayne co-founder Adam Schlesinger has died at 52.

Fountains of Wayne’s most recent album, “Sky Full of Holes,” was released in 2011.

“I think part of the reason we still exist is because we’re so slow between records. … We tend to put out a record every three to four years and then do some touring and then we get away from each other for a while,” Schlesinger told the Asbury Park Press in 2011. “It’s always a nice thing to come back to, but it definitely doesn’t feel like that much time has elapsed. I feel pretty much like the same guy.”

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