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Celebrities and fans remember Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne after his death from coronavirus


Famous friends, fans, music critics and more mourned the Emmy-winning songwriter Adam Schlesinger from the band Fountains of Wayne Wednesday after his death from complications of the coronavirus disease.

Schlesinger, who grew up in Montclair, was 52.

He was a founding member of Fountains of Wayne, a group named for a Route 46 store that sold outdoor furniture and lawn ornaments. The band, which produced the 2003 hit song “Stacy’s Mom,” was nominated for two Grammys — best pop performance by a duo or group for “Stacy’s Mom” and best new artist.

Schlesinger was also known for his songwriting work, on TV and on Broadway as well as in movies. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the title song of the 1997 Tom Hanks film “That Thing You Do!” (Hanks was among the first celebrities to test positive for the coronavirus disease in March.)

Actor Jon Bernthal (“The Punisher”), who is set to star in the upcoming Newark-set “Sopranos” prequel movie “The Many Saints of Newark,” is Schlesinger’s cousin.

“This is my Big Cousin Adam,” he posted on Instagram Tuesday, sharing news that Schlesinger was on a ventilator and being treated for coronavirus disease. “He is one of the most talented people in the world. As a boy I’d be blown away watching and listening to him play and sing. He taught me how cool it is to be an artist.”

Adam Schlesinger performing in 2007. He was nominated for two Grammys with Fountains of Wayne.Scott Gries | Getty Images

Schlesinger shared in a 2012 Emmy win with David Javerbaum for “It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore,” a song they wrote for Neil Patrick Harris when he was hosting the Tonys. They followed that up with another Emmy win in 2013 for the song “If I Had Time,” again performed by Harris at the Tonys.

Alongside Javerbaum, Schlesinger received Tony nominations for best original score and best musical for the 2007 production of “Cry-Baby.”

In 2019, Schlesinger shared in an Emmy win with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” creator Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen for the song “Antidepressants Are So Not A Big Deal.”

Bloom gave birth to a daughter the same day of Schlesinger’s death.

“Please keep Adam in your thoughts and prayers,” she had tweeted Tuesday. “It’s been an extremely scary week.”

Before he died, Schlesinger was set to work with Bloom, Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson on “The Nanny: A New Musical,” adapted from the ’90s TV sitcom that starred Drescher.

“We will miss you… Adam Schlesinger died of Covid 19 at age 52 today,” Drescher posted on Instagram. “He was writing the Music for The Nanny Musical. (Devastated.) My prayers are for you. May peace be with you.”

On social media, prominent artists and songwriters and fans remembered his many contributions to pop culture, whether it was the irresistible “Stacy’s Mom” and “That Thing You Do,” his work on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” or his Wham!-inspired music from the 2007 Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore romantic comedy “Music and Lyrics.”

“Adam Schlesinger took pop music writing to its classiest and most untouchable place,” tweeted songwriter and producer Jack Antonoff, who grew up in Woodcliff Lake and New Milford. “An honor to live at the same time he made his work.”

“Raising my head above water to say that I’m grieving Adam Schlesinger,” tweeted another fellow New Jerseyan, singer-songwriter Ted Leo, who grew up in Bloomfield. “I know so many people who knew him much better than I did, and I’m grieving for them as well. Love to you all in trying times.”

Singer-songwriter Ben Lee said he knew Schlesinger for more than 20 years.

“Worked on some songs together, toured the US supporting Fountains, and always found him to be an (exemplary) craftsman, artist and mensch,” Lee tweeted. “Love you buddy.”

“For those of you who know my life as a songwriter- Adam Schlesinger’s career was always a big source of inspiration for me,” tweeted actor Darren Criss. “He had a lyrical cheekiness that was only matched by his expert understanding of form, and was always able to fuse the two in a really fun, accessible way. The art of making (seemingly) silly things accessible has always been my MO, and when I was starting out, Adam was the gold standard. I never got the chance to meet him but that’s exactly what I would have told him. Thank you so much Adam Schlesinger for your incredible songs- the best parties will forever be the ones where they play your hits.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, a big Fountains of Wayne fan, called Schlesinger’s death “heartbreaking.”

“From his work with @fountainsofwayn to his award-winning credits in TV, movies, and stage, millions of fans caught that radiation vibe Adam Schlesinger was groovin’ on,” Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted. “A sad, sad loss for Jersey’s music scene.”

“RIP Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), fine singer, witty and satiric songwriter,” Stephen King tweeted. “How terrible to lose him at 52 to this virus.”

Have a tip? Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at akuperinsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.

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