Adam Schlesinger, a musician and songwriter highly regarded for his work as a member of Fountains of Wayne and an Emmy-winning songwriter for TV’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” has died as a result of coronavirus complications, Variety has confirmed. He was 52.
Schlesinger died Wednesday morning. He was divorced and is survived by two daughters.
He had previously been reported Tuesday morning as “very sick and heavily sedated” by his attorney of 25 years, Josh Grier. He had been in an upstate New York hospital for more than a week at that time, Grier said.
An EGOT contender, Schlesinger has been nominated for Oscars, Tonys, Grammys and Emmys and won the latter two awards. At the 2018 Emmys, he was up for two trophies for his “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” work and picked up one, winning in the outstanding original music and lyrics category for the song “Antidepressants Are So Not A Big Deal” (shared with the show’s star, Rachel Bloom, and Jack Dolgen). He was a 10-time Emmy nominee in all, five of those for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” for which he served as executive music producer. Five more nominations came for his contributions to the Tony Awards, “Sesame Street” and a Stephen Colbert Christmas special.
His Oscar nomination in 1997 was for writing the theme song for the Tom Hanks-directed film “That Thing You Do!,” one of his first successful forays outside the realm of his own music-making with Fountains of Wayne. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe at that time.
Fountains of Wayne, the band he co-founded with Chris Collingwood, earned two Grammy nominations in 2003, for best new artist (many years after the band’s actual 1996 recording debut) and for best pop performance by a group for the Top 40 single “Stacy’s Mom,” a cheeky MTV staple that became the band’s biggest hit. His lone Grammy win, though, came for best comedy album for his work on “A Stephen Colbert Christmas.” While the group’s sound on record was harmony-loaded power pop, in the vein of the Beatles and descendants like Badfinger and Big Star, they were an unexpectedly powerful and raucous live act, with Schlesinger’s strong voice meshing beautifully with Collingwood’s.
His two Tony nominations were both for the musical “Cry-Baby,” an adaptation of the John Waters film, in 2008. He had recently collaborated with Sarah Silverman on his first full stage score since then, for an off-Broadway musical, “The Bedwetter,” which had been scheduled to open at the Atlantic Theater Company this spring. Tony winners Linda Lavin and Stephanie J. Block had been set to star in the limited-run production from April 25 through May 20 before pandemic-related shutdowns put a halt to New York theater efforts.
Although he was a member of the bands Tinted Windows and Ivy, he is best regarded among rock fans for the five albums he recorded with Fountains of Wayne between 1996 and 2011. Dissent between him and Collingwood during the recording of “Sky Full of Holes” led to that being their apparent swan song, although reviews for that final album were, typically for the group, raves. “Welcome Interstate Managers” in 2003, the album that generated “Stacy’s Mom” (and its Rachel Hunter-starring video), remained their most popular work.