Former Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell has died at the age of 56. According to a statement given by his manager to TMZ, Harwell passed away peacefully and comfortably in his home surrounded by family. It was reported earlier this week that Harwell was receiving end-of-life care at home for liver failure, and wasn’t expected to live for much longer.
“Steve Harwell was a true American Original,” the band wrote in a statement across their social media. “A larger-than-life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle. Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom.”
Smash Mouth’s Steve Harwell Dies Aged 56
“And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition, and his king-size cajones.”
Harwell formed Smash Mouth in 1994, and the band were picked up by Interscope after early track ‘Nervous In The Alley’ was played on local radio. Debut album Fush Yu Mang arrived in 1997 – spawning their first hit ‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ – but it was their second album Astro Lounge, and a little song called ‘All Star’, that would propel them to fame.
‘All Star’’s popularity was buoyed by its use in 2001’s Shrek, and has remained beloved internet meme fodder for over two decades. The band would release a handful more albums, the most recent being Magic in 2012.
In 2021 Harwell left the band after a highly criticised performance in New York: the singer threatened the audience, flipped them off, slurred his words, and according to one report gave a Nazi salute to the crowd.
In the wake of the backlash, Harwell announced his immediate retirement due to ongoing health issues. TMZ had reported at the time that Harwell had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, and had since experienced heart failure and Wernicke’s encephalopathy – an acute neurological condition. Harwell had also struggled with alcohol abuse throughout his life.