Former Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell has died, a representative for the band confirms to Billboard.
Harwell, who performed as lead vocalist for the California pop-rock act until announcing his retirement from the group in 2021, passed away Monday (Sept. 4) at his home in Boise, Idaho, after being in hospice care. He was 56.
“Steve Harwell passed away this morning September 4, 2023 at his home in Boise Idaho. He was surrounded by family and friends and passed peacefully and comfortably,” reads a statement provided by Smash Mouth manager Robert Hayes.
“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,” the statement continues.
“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.”
Leading up to his death, Harwell was being cared for at home by his fiancé and hospice care. TMZ first wrote of the musician’s current health status earlier on Sunday (Sept. 3), reporting that he’s reached the final stage of liver failure.
Harwell was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that can makes it hard for the heart to deliver blood to the body, several years ago. Following his initial diagnosis, he suffered from “nonstop serious medical setbacks including heart failure as well as acute Wernicke Encephalopathy,” a condition that greatly impacted his motor functions, including speech and impaired memory, a statement said in 2021.
Harwell shared the news that he was retiring from the “All Star” group due to his ongoing health issues in October 2021.
Harwell’s comment about retiring from Smash Mouth read: “Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a rock star performing in front of sold-out arenas and have been so fortunate to live out that dream. To my bandmates, it’s been an honor performing with you all these years and I can’t think of anyone else I would have rather gone on this wild journey with.”
Smash Mouth formed in 1994 in San Jose, Calif., consisting of members Harwell, guitarist Greg Camp, bassist Paul De Lisle and drummer Kevin Coleman. The band’s first single was 1997’s “Walkin’ on the Sun,” and they landed a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the earworm “All Star,” which peaked at No. 4 on the chart in 1999. Astro Lounge, Smash Mouth’s sophomore album that included “All Star,” reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart that year. “All Star” was nominated for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals at the Grammy Awards in 2000, an award that ultimately went to Santana for “Maria Maria.” The song enjoyed new popularity after being featured in the Academy Award-winning animated film Shrek from 2001.
Elsewhere on the charts, Smash Mouth rang up five hits on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart, including three top 10s: its debut entry “Walkin’ on the Sun” (No. 2 peak, 1998), “All Star” (No. 1, for five weeks), 1999) and “Then the Morning Comes” (No. 8, 2000). The band also scored with “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby” (No. 27, 1998) and its cover of The Monkees’ Neil Diamond-written classic “I’m a Believer” (No. 24, 2001), from Shrek. Plus, “Walkin’ on the Sun” topped the Adult Pop Airplay and Alternative Airplay charts and “All Star” ruled Pop Airplay and Adult Pop Airplay.
On the Billboard 200, Smash Mouth has charted five albums. After its first entry, Fush Yu Mang, hit No. 19 in 1998, the group reached the top 10 with Astro Lounge. The band has sold 6.4 million albums in the U.S. to date, according to Luminate.
Smash Mouth’s most recent album is 2012’s Magic, though they released an acoustic version of debut set Fush Yu Mang in 2018, following the 20th anniversary of the original recording’s release.
Smash Mouth continues to tour with vocalist Zach Goode, who joined the band in 2022.
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