Smash Mouth Frontman Steve Harwell Dies at Age 56


Founding member and former lead singer of Smash Mouth, Steve Harwell, has passed away at the age of 56.

On Monday, band manager Robert Hayes told The Daily Beast that Harwell “was surrounded by family and friends and passed peacefully and comfortably” at his Boise, Idaho, home.

The Daily Beast previously reported that Harwell was placed in hospice care Sunday with late-stage liver failure, spurred by years of substance abuse. Smash Mouth band manager Robert Hayes said that Harwell would only be around “for a short time.”

A memorial photo courtesy of Steve Harwell's manager, Robert Hayes.

A memorial photo courtesy of Steve Harwell's manager, Robert Hayes.

Courtesy of Robert Hayes

Since its creation in 1994, Smash Mouth has sold over 10 million albums, scored Grammy nominations, and made iconic waves for musical features in the Shrek film franchise. The group’s breakout single, “Walkin’ on the Sun,” topped Billboard’s Modern Rock chart and hit Number 2 on the Hot 100. Smash Mouth became ubiquitous when the 1999 track “All Star” became an anthem that’s still blasted at sports stadiums and arenas today. Their cover of The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” played a memorable part in Shrek in 2001.

During the band’s heyday, Harwell was known for having a signature style, often seen with his hair spiked, wearing sunglasses, and a goatee on his chin.

Harwell performed as Smash Mouth’s lead singer since the band’s inception, but stepped down in 2021 after years of medical issues. In 2015, he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and heart failure; had to be rushed to a hospital after collapsing onstage during a 2016 performance; and gave a wonky show in 2021 where he appeared to have forgotten the lyrics of his songs, slurred his words, and tossed a beer can into the crowd.

Smash Mouth has since hired Zach Goode to fill Harwell’s role.

“Steve Harwell was a true American Original,” Hayes said in a statement, lauding Harwell’s “irrepressible charm,” “reckless ambition,” and “king-size cajones.”

“Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom,” Hayes continued. “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.

“Steve’s legacy will live on through the music.”

AJ McDougall contributed to this story.

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