Fountains of Wayne Co-Founder Adam Schlesinger Dead at 52 After Coronavirus Battle

The musician had been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator after being diagnosed with COVID-19

Adam Schlesinger
Photo: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

Adam Schlesinger has died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He was 52.

The Fountains of Wayne musician’s lawyer, Josh Grier, confirmed his death to Rolling Stone on Wednesday. Schlesinger had been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator.

Grier and Schlesinger’s agent did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on Wednesday.

In a statement through his agent to Entertainment Weekly on Tuesday, Schlesinger’s girlfriend said “Adam has been hospitalized with COVID-19” and is “on a ventilator and has been sedated to facilitate his recovery.”

The musician was “in critical condition,” she said at the time.

“He’s very sick and is heavily sedated, as are all people on ventilators, but no one has used the word ‘coma’ to me,” Grier told Variety in a previous report.

Schlesinger won three Emmys during his career: one for writing lyrics for Rachel Bloom‘s hit CW musical series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and two for his lyrical contributions to the 2011 and 2012 Tony Awards telecasts.

In a lengthy tribute to Schlesinger on Twitter Wednesday, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna remembered the musician as “so funny, so kind, so opinionated, so clever, so passionate.”

“We worked together and agreed and disagreed and rejoiced and bemoaned and celebrated and it felt extra sweet for me because I’d known him so long,” she continued. “I love that guy. I love all the memories”

McKenna concluded her tribute by sharing Schlesinger’s demo of the song “What’ll It Be?” that appeared in the first season of the CW series.

“Last night I stayed up listening to Adam’s demos. I have always loved his singing voice. ‘What’ll It Be? was a song that was tough to crack,” McKenna wrote of the track. “Suddenly, without much preamble, he sent in a demo. Rachel and I stood in her office and listened to it and looked at each other, astonished, because it was perfect.”

Bloom also shared her grief at the loss of her colleague and friend later on Wednesday.

“I have so much to say about Adam Schlesinger that I am at a complete loss for words,” she wrote in a brief Instagram post. “He is irreplaceable.”

Bloom welcomed her daughter this week, and in her birth announcement said that “having a baby in the NICU during a pandemic while a dear friend was in the hospital 3,000 miles away made this by far the most emotionally intense week of mine and Gregor’s lives.”

“The whole family is now home safe and I am just so grateful to all of our medical workers. From those in our NICUs to those directly helping COVID patients like Adam, they are sacrificing so much to fight on the front lines of this war,” she had added in the caption for a photo holding her newborn.

Schlesinger was also nominated for an Oscar for writing the title soundtrack song for the Tom Hanks-directed 1996 film That Thing You Do!.

Schlesinger spoke with PEOPLE in 2016 on the track’s 20th anniversary.

Adam Schlesinger
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“There wasn’t one particular moment,” he recalled when asked if there was a moment he realized the song had taken on a life of its own. “It was just one of those things where the movie never fully went away. They would show it on TV a lot, and because it’s a music movie it withstands repeat viewing a little better than other movies. It just sort of found its spot in popular culture and hung around for a long time, which is great.”

Fountains of Wayne is perhaps best known for the 2003 song “Stacy’s Mom.”

“One of my best friends, when we were maybe 11 or 12, came to me and announced that he thought my grandmother was hot,” Schlesinger told MTV at the time. “And I said, ‘Hey, you’re stepping over the line,’ but at that point in life, I wouldn’t put it past anyone.”

In 2008, Schlesinger won a Grammy Award for his work on A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! with Stephen Colbert.

As of Wednesday, there are at least 206,233 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 4,576 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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