Steve Harwell, best known for his time as the iconic lead singer of Smash Mouth, died today (September 4) at 56 years old, Rolling Stone and The New York Times report. Smash Mouth manager Robert Hayes confirmed the news to the publications, saying Harwell died at his Boise, Idaho home “surrounded by family and friends,” and that he “passed peacefully and comfortably.”
Hayes also noted:
“Steve has been retired from Smash Mouth for two years now, and the band continues to tour with new vocalist Zach Goode. That said, Steve’s legacy will live on through the music. With Steve, Smash Mouth has sold over 10 million albums worldwide and topped the charts with two #1 hit singles, five Top 40 singles, three Hot 100 singles, four Billboard 200 albums and a Grammy nomination not to mention the hundreds of film and television placements and of course those musical features in Shrek. […]
Steve’s iconic voice is one of the most recognizable voices from his generation. He loved the fans and loved to perform. 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 percent full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out.”
Hayes did not confirm the cause of death. This news comes shortly after Hayes revealed the singer was receiving hospice care at home due to medical complications, telling CNN yesterday, “Although Steve is here with us still, sadly it will only be for a short time.”
Harwell was born on January 9, 1967 in Santa Clara, California. He was a founding member of Smash Mouth in 1994, alongside Greg Camp, Kevin Coleman, and Paul De Lisle. The band achieved success with its debut album, 1997’s Fush Yu Mang, which featured the single “Walkin’ On The Sun.”
The group reached its commercial peak with its second album, 1999’s Astro Lounge, best known for the band’s signature song, “All Star,” along with “Then The Morning Comes,” another successful single. The final Smash Mouth album released during Harwell’s lifetime was 2012’s Magic.
Harwell retired from Smash Mouth in 2021, shortly after videos of Harwell exhibiting unusual behavior during a live performance garnered attention online. In a statement announcing the news, it was revealed Harwell was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy eight years earlier. Harwell also dealt with Wernicke encephalopathy, which impacted his motor skills, speech, and memory.
In the retirement statement, Harwell noted, “Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a Rockstar 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. […] I am so grateful to each and every one of you who has helped Smash Mouth sell over 10 million albums worldwide, put us on top of radio charts and those who have kept All Star relevant as one of the top memes on the internet today. I cannot wait to see what Smash Mouth accomplishes next and am looking forward to counting myself as one of the band’s newest fans.”