RIP: Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, Novelistic Pop Auteur, Killed By Covid19 Pandemic

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NEW YORK TIMES: Adam Schlesinger, an acclaimed singer-songwriter for the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy who had an award-winning second career writing songs for film, theater and television, died on Wednesday in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was 52. The cause was complications of the coronavirus, his family said.

In Fountains of Wayne, which was started in 1995, Mr. Schlesinger [pictured above, second from right] and Chris Collingwood perfected a novelistic form of hummable pop-rock in a style derived from the Kinks and from 1970s groups like Big Star and the Cars. They chose northern New Jersey and boroughs outside Manhattan as thematic territory, chronicling the lives of suburban mall shoppers, Generation X slackers and down-market cover bands in songs like “Hackensack” and “Red Dragon Tattoo.”

Adored by critics, Fountains of Wayne — in which Mr. Schlesinger played bass and Mr. Collingwood played guitar and sang lead vocals — became a cult favorite but had modest record sales. Its most famous moment came in 2003 with “Stacy’s Mom,” a winking novelty track about a teenage boy infatuated with a friend’s mother. With a racy video featuring the supermodel Rachel Hunter, the song made it to No. 21 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Almost from the start of his career, Mr. Schlesinger found success in other mediums. He wrote the Beatles-esque theme song to “That Thing You Do!,” a 1996 film directed by Tom Hanks about an also-ran 1960s rock band; like the best Fountains of Wayne songs, “That Thing You Do!” had an instantly catchy melody, a twisting chord progression and plenty of wordplay. The movie brought Mr. Schlesinger nominations for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. He also won three Emmys, including one last year for his songs on the 2010s TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” which often threaded campy, Broadway-style numbers into its plot. […]

Mr. Schlesinger’s mother, a former public relations executive, has sometimes been credited with suggesting the name Fountains of Wayne, but in an interview on Wednesday, she refuted that. Her son had been playing music and writing songs from the time he was a child, she said, and from a young age had an eye on a garish, only-in-New Jersey lawn ornament shop in Wayne, N.J. “Every time we drove past it,” Ms. Schlesinger said, “Adam would say, ‘Fountains of Wayne. That would be a great band name.’” MORE