Memorial To Be Held for Local Artist, Musician Stretch Adam at Tangent Gallery

A resident at storied alternative arts venue the Crow Manor, Adam was an artist, comedian and musician who became a staple in local arts and culture community.

Mark McClelland
Mark McClelland

A memorial for local Detroit musician, artist and comedian Adam Shellabarger — better known to friends as “Stretch Adam” — is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday, October 6th at the Tangent Gallery in Detroit’s North End neighborhood.

Stretch passed away at the age of 35 last Saturday in New Orleans where he was currently living, according to his brother Brian Shellabarger who spoke with WDET. The cause of death is currently unknown.

Stretch is survived by his parents Richard Shellabarger and Janet Tebelman; brothers Evan and Brian Shellabarger; sister-in-law Deanna Kaprelian; and his fiancé Vanessa Leland.

“He was the most generous person I ever met,” says Brian Shellabarger. “He didn’t have much but what he had he shared. If he had two bucks, he’d give you three.”

Click on the player above to hear Stretch Adam’s music.

Interested in performing from a young age, Stretch split his time between New Orleans where he regularly performed as a busker in the French Quarter and Detroit, where he was born.

As a resident of the storied Crow Manor on the city’s west side, Stretch was an integral part of Detroit’s underground arts and culture scene that celebrated activism through independent art, performances, festivals and concerts.

As a local comedian, he founded and hosted the regular stand-up night “Mothra” hosted at PJ’s Lager House in Corktown that quickly became a proving ground for young comics.

“He grew up on punk rock but became a lover of all kinds of music.” – Brian Shellabarger, brother

According to friends and family who have shared their memories of Stretch via social media, he’s remembered as a member of the city’s creative class who stitched together its many artistic communities through respect and friendship.

In 2011, Stretch released the album “Stretched Across the Tracks.”

“He grew up on punk rock but became a lover of all kinds of music,” says Shellabarger. “Eventually, [he] learned to play the guitar and then the banjo and harmonica.”

Shellabarger says his brother spent his early years hopping trains and hitchhiking across the country, making friends wherever he went.

“He was a true adventurer,” says Shellabarger.

Mark McClelland
Mark McClelland



  • Ryan Patrick Hooper

    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.