Adam Schlesinger, who produced The Monkees' 2016 album Good Times! along with the group's first-ever holiday collection Christmas Party (2018), passed away on April 1, 2020 at age 52 from complications of COVID-19.
"As many of you are aware, Adam had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and although he had been making some small improvements over the last few days, Adam's condition was critical and he was ultimately unable to recover from COVID-19 complications," read a statement on April 2 provided to CNN. "He was truly a prolific talent and even more so, a loving and devoted father, son and friend."
Adam was a member of the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, along with the supergroup Tinted Windows, whose song "This Is The Day" was featured in There's Something About Mary. His notable achievements also included TV and film songwriting, which stretched from That Thing You Do to Music and Lyrics to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Fountains of Wayne was perhaps best known for the early 2000s hit single "Stacy's Mom," which was nominated for a Grammy. Schlesinger was also an Emmy-winning songwriter for the CW musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show for which he composed more than 100 songs. He received an Oscar nomination for writing the title song to That Thing You Do, directed by Tom Hanks, as well as two Tony nominations for his work on the musical adaptation of John Waters' film Cry-Baby in 2008. In addition to his songwriting, Schlesinger produced recordings for such musical artists as They Might Be Giants, America, and Robert Plant.
Good Times!, The Monkees' first album of all new material since 1996's Justus, was produced by Schlesinger and included his own composition, "Our Own World," along with a song co-written with Micky Dolenz, a send-up of an oft-used phrase utilized by Dolenz over the years, "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had a Good Time)." The album peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200 in June 2016.
Schlesinger appeared onstage with The Monkees in New York City during the group's 50th Anniversary Tour, performing "I Was There" and "Steppin' Stone."
Micky Dolenz remembered Adam in an interview with WCBS FM. "He was such a great guy, a gentleman, and funny, and so smart. And obviously an incredible producer, writer, performer. I wrote a song with him on Good Times! I just can't believe it. That's by far the closest person to me that's been affected [by COVID-19] and I think about him all the time. What a loss."
Schlesinger was effusive in his praise of Dolenz in a 2016 interview with Fast Company when talking about the recording sessions for Good Times! "Micky was a real workhorse, and I think he did more hours in the studio than all the other guys, in total, because he sang most of the songs. He was a real trooper, and his voice is incredible – in most cases, when you’re working with older singers, you’re having to transpose things lower, and in Micky’s case, we’re actually having to transpose things higher, because he’s got this incredible range."
Adam's collaboration with The Monkees on Good Times! was seemingly a high point in his career. "They were all incredibly easy and fun to work with," he told Fast Company. "Everybody has the attitude of 'let us know what we can do to help - here are some ideas, take them or leave them.' They're very collaborative."
The Monkees' official website paid tribute to Adam Schlesinger after the announcement of his death, while also highlighting his work on Good Times! "Even the most optimistic Monkees fan couldn’t have guessed just how wonderful an effort Schlesinger would help put together. It wasn't just a comeback album, it was an instant classic that was – without question – the best thing the band had released since the '60s."
Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist and guitarist of Death Cab For Cutie, whose song "Me & Magdalena" proved to be a highlight from Good Times!, also commemorated Adam.
"I never got to meet Adam," Gibbard relayed during an at-home live stream concert after Schlesinger passed. "We had a lot of connective tissue - a lot of friends in common - but we never had a chance to meet. But I owe him a huge debt of gratitude because he was integral in picking 'Me & Magdalena' for The Monkees to record four years ago."
"I always thought as one does in life that you have plenty of time to say thank you, or I love you, or to give somebody a compliment or what have you, but that day obviously did not come," said Gibbard. "From the bottom of my heart, I'm so grateful to him for helping me realize a lifelong dream, which was to write a song that would be recorded by The Monkees, a band I grew up listening to."
Adam Schlesinger returned to the producer's chair for The Monkees on Christmas Party in 2018. Schlesinger co-wrote one of the standout tracks on the holiday collection, "House of Broken Gingerbread," with novelist Michael Chabon.
Adam was survived by his two daughters, Sadie and Claire, his girlfriend Alexis Morley, his parents Barbara and Stephen Schlesinger, and his sister Lauren.
Listen to the latest podcasts from Rhino, NPR's Fresh Air, Zilch, Nesmith, Tork, Goffin & King, and Rolling Stone as they honor the life and accomplishments of Adam Schlesinger.
In Memoriam: Michael Nesmith
Dolenz sings Nesmith - The EP