Smash Mouth’s Steve Harwell Dead At 56
Smash Mouth’s lead vocalist Steve Harwell has died. On Sunday, TMZ reported that Harwell had entered hospice care following liver failure as a result of alcohol addiction. Now Smash Mouth’s manager Robert Hayes confirms to Rolling Stone that Harwell “passed peacefully and comfortably” at home in Boise, “surrounded by family and friends.” He was 56.
Smash Mouth issued this statement via their Instagram account:
Steve Harwell was a true American Original. 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.
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.
Steve lived a 100% full-throttle life.
Burning brightly across the universe before burning out.
Good night Heevo Veev.
Rest in peace knowing you aimed for the stars, and magically hit your target.
Harwell was born in Santa Clara, California in 1967. He started Smash Mouth in 1994 with bassist Paul De Lisle, guitarist Greg Camp, and drummer Kevin Coleman. They played around San Jose for a few years and attracted the attention of Interscope Records with their demo of “Nervous In The Alley.” Their debut album, Fush Yu Mang, was released on Interscope in 1997 and spawned the hit single “Walkin’ On The Sun,” which made it to #1 on Billboard‘s Modern Rock chart.
Their follow-up album, Astro Lounge, came out in 1999 and contained “All Star,” another massive single that cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and became a mainstay of late ’90s culture. It was later included in the 2001 animated film Shrek, alongside Smash Mouth’s cover of the Monkees’ “I’m A Believer,” which became nearly as ubiquitous. That cover would end up being included on Smash Mouth’s third full-length, a self-titled album that came out in 2001.
Smash Mouth continued on after that, releasing one more album before moving over to Universal and putting out a greatest-hits compilation, All Star Smash Hits, in 2005. That same year, they also released a Christmas album, Gift Of Rock. In the lead-up to the release of their fifth album, Summer Girl, Harwell appeared on the reality show The Surreal Life. Lineup changes shook up the group, and 2012’s Magic was Smash Mouth’s only album released without primary songwriting Greg Camp. It was also the last Smash Mouth album.
The band toured on the nostalgia circuit, with Harwell and Paul De Lisle remaining the two most consistent members of the live group. Harwell suffered from numerous health issues. In 2016, he collapsed on stage at a festival. In 2021, Harwell retired from the band following a “chaotic” show, attributed to long-term medical issues including mental health and substance abuse problems and cardiomyopathy that impacted both his memory and motor functions.