Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of the New Jersey power-pop group Fountains of Wayne and Emmy- and Grammy-winning songwriter for film, television, and theater, died Wednesday from complications related to COVID-19. He was 52.
Schelsinger’s lawyer, Josh Grier, confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stone. Schlesinger was hospitalized in March and tested positive for the coronavirus. At the time, he was placed on a ventilator and heavily sedated.
Schlesinger had one of the most unique and busiest careers in pop. With Fountains of Wayne — a group that blended power-pop delight with indie and alt-rock sensibilities — he released five albums between 1996 and 2011. During the same period, he released six albums with his other group, Ivy, all the while building a portfolio of TV and film music. His first hit came in 1996, but it was a song engineered to sound like it was actually from the Sixties: “That Thing You Do.” The track served as the sole hit for the Wonders, the fake band at the center of Tom Hanks’ film That Thing You Do!; in real life, the track charted well and earned Schlesinger an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
“There would be no Playtone without Adam Schlesinger, without his That Thing You Do!” Tom Hanks wrote. “He was a One-der. Lost him to Covid-19. Terribly sad today.”
Seven years later, Schlesinger and Fountains of Wayne would notch their own career-defining hit, “Stacy’s Mom.”
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