Fountains of Wayne’s Schlesinger had local connections

  • AP PHOTO/RICHARD SHOTWELL AP PHOTO/RICHARD SHOTWELL

Staff Writer 
Published: 4/2/2020 5:09:52 PM

The untimely death of Fountains of Wayne bassist, singer and three-time Grammy award-winning musician Adam Schlesinger, 52, on Wednesday from complications related to coronavirus has had an impact on fans and the music community across the world. But here in western Massachusetts, there are friends and fellow musicians who are grieving him. 

Power pop band Fountains of Wayne has a history with Northampton music venues, performing at the former Bay State Hotel as well as at the Iron Horse Music Hall over the years. 

Chris Collingwood, former frontman of Fountains of Wayne, resides in Northampton and even named his new band, Look Park, after the city park. He and Schlesinger met while attending Williams College and co-founded Fountains of Wayne in New York City in the mid-1990s.

On Tuesday, Collingwood shared an update from Schlesinger’s family on Twitter, stating that his condition had been improving. But by the next day, Schlesinger had died. Collingwood had yet to post anything on social media regarding Schlesinger’s passing as of Thursday.  

Neal Robinson, a Florence resident and bassist with pop/rock group The Glad Machine, is a childhood friend of Schlesinger. They grew up together in Montclair, New Jersey, but reconnected later in life during the late 1990s and early 2000s in Northampton.

“He was an extraordinarily funny guy,” Robinson said. “Maybe it was a New Jersey thing, but we were always one to make a joke in the worst kind of situations. And he had that down. He would call what I’m doing now an ‘ego-bituary.’” 

He added that Schlesinger was always musical growing up. 

“If there was ever an instrument around, he would play it,” Robinson said. “I remember in the fifth grade back in the day, there was always a piano in the class … And so in between classes he wrote little songs as a 10-year-old that are probably better than a lot of songs that are coming out now.” 

Robinson said he doesn’t think he’s fully processed the loss of Schlesinger at this time. 

“He was one of those people who I’d see once every 10 years, but there was a really tight group of us growing up in our hometown, a cohort of people in our class … But we all had the same type of humor and sensibilities. It’s tough losing someone like that.” 

Robinson said Schlesinger was a fan of Beatles member Paul McCartney, his musical hero. 

“I think he was looking for his personal John Lennon and I think that’s what he found in Chris (Collingwood). I would probably punch me in the face for saying that, but I really think that’s true just the way their personalities interacted. And that’s how they created art. Sometimes to create art you need conflict.” 

Northampton singer-songwriter Henning Ohlenbusch of indie pop band Gentle Hen also mourned Schlesinger. In a Thursday Twitter post,  Ohlenbusch wrote, “So very sad to hear about Adam Schlesinger, one of the great songwriters of our time, passing away last night. Stay inside if you can, everyone.” 

Schlesinger had received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for writing the title track to the Tom Hanks-directed film “That Thing You Do!” and Fountains of Wayne was most known for their Top 40 and Grammy-nominated song “Stacy’s Mom.” 

Musicians and bands across the world also posted condolences over Twitter, including rock singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet, Counting Crows and Australian musician Rick Springfield. Other celebrities such as actors Tom Hanks, Neil Patrick Harris, late-night talk show hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel as well as novelist Stephen King also wrote condolences for Schlesinger via social media.

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com. 


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