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Adam Schlesinger ’89 passes away from COVID-19

Adam Schlesinger ’89 passed away from COVID-19 on April 1st in Poughkeepsie, NY.   Schlesinger enjoyed great commercial success with Fountains of Wayne, but also played in numerous other bands, and won 3 Emmy awards and a Grammy award for songs used in television.  As written in an article reporting his death:

Schlesinger’s career extended well beyond his work in bands. He had a hand in many of the songs that populated the critically beloved TV series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and he won three Emmys — one for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and two, both with David Javerbaum, for co-writing songs performed in Tony Awards telecasts. With Javerbaum, Schlesinger was nominated for two Tonys (both for 2008’s Cry-Baby) and won a Grammy for A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!.

A versatile songwriter with a gift for straddling genres and musical eras, Schlesinger wrote frequently for film, with credits ranging from three songs in the romantic comedy Music and Lyrics to the Oscar-nominated title track to Tom Hanks’ 1996 film That Thing You Do!.

I was at Williams at the same time as Schlesinger, but I never knew him, or his Fountains of Wayne partner Chris Collingwood.  I wonder if they ever played publicly (separately or together) while they were in the Purple Valley?  Do any readers know?

Schlesinger must have been one of the better known Eph musicians/artists in recent decades, and he will be missed.  Condolences to his family and friends.


UPDATE: My friends Ellen Waggett and Tim Sullivan, both (infinitely) more musically and artistically gifted than me, have both posted on Facebook about their friendships with Schlesinger while we were all students during the late 1980’s.  This news will obviously will hit some pretty hard on a personal level.

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10 Comments To "Adam Schlesinger ’89 passes away from COVID-19"

#1 Comment By damselinadress On April 1, 2020 @ 10:00 pm

Yes – Fountains of Wayne played at Williams in 2000. I have seen them live multiple times – he was an amazing musician.

#2 Comment By dcat On April 2, 2020 @ 1:46 am

One of the most impressive of his accomplishments was “That Thing You Do” — a fake one hit wonder for a movie in the 90s that had to convincingly sound like a #1 hit in the era of the Beatles.

#3 Comment By fendertweed On April 2, 2020 @ 11:52 am

Terribly sad. I saw FoW live many times and always a ferocious performance, not to mention the terrific albums.

#4 Comment By abl On April 2, 2020 @ 1:20 pm

I’m hoping this is allowed here…

Here’s some of his music:

That Thing You Do – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPMLG8mnCRM
Stacy’s Mom – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZLfasMPOU4
Sink to the Bottom – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgLZMvnWxRU
NPR 2011 Tiny Desk Concert – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIO1tXMnt4E

#5 Comment By abl On April 2, 2020 @ 1:22 pm

And here’s another nice tribute (with more links to his music): https://slate.com/culture/2020/04/adam-schlesinger-dead-crazy-ex-girlfriend-fountains-of-wayne.html

#6 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On April 2, 2020 @ 1:41 pm


These are great!

Thank you for posting.

#7 Comment By Arch Stanton On April 2, 2020 @ 2:08 pm

At Williams his band was the Rhythm Method, which was very popular.
Didn’t know he was an EGOT nominee! (and partial winner). Are there any other Ephs with that achievement? Perhaps the couple behind Frozen? Sondheim?

#8 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On April 2, 2020 @ 2:45 pm

I remember that band! I didn’t know then (or realize now), that it was Schlesinger’s band. I think my friend and classmate Tim played with them.

#9 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On April 2, 2020 @ 3:37 pm

#10 Comment By WTAprill On May 3, 2020 @ 4:19 am

It was horribly sad to hear about Adam’s passing. Beyond his abundant talents he was just one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. We lived across the hall from each other in Sewall House and would frequently talk music, including sharing demo recordings he and Chris were working on. A random memory illustrating his kindness and generosity: I once asked his thoughts about an arrangement the Octet was working on for to cover a (hopefully) funny commercial jingle. He not only provided a great idea, but actually wrote a better arrangement without being asked and gave it to us. Anyone remember the jazz showcases he put on in Currier Ballroom, serving as musical director out of simple love of making good music?

This loss ripples far, and is keenly painful to any who were lucky enough to know Adam.