Former Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell has died at age 56.
The group confirmed the news in an Instagram post on Monday, September 4.
“Steve Harwell was a true American Original,” Smash Mouth writes. “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.”
“The fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable,” the post 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.”
TMZ previously reported that Harwell had entered hospice care with liver failure. An official cause of death has not been announced.
Harwell co-founded Smash Mouth in 1994. The group’s debut album, 1997’s Fush Yu Mang, spawned the single “Walkin’ on the Sun” and was certified double-Platinum by the RIAA, but they broke even bigger with their 1999 triple-Platinum album Astro Lounge and its single “All Star.”
“All Star” hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 — a career high for Smash Mouth — and was memorably featured on the soundtrack to the 2001 animated film Shrek. Smash Mouth also covered The Monkees‘ “I’m a Believer” for Shrek, and has remained inextricably tied to the movie since its release.
Following Astro Lounge and Shrek, Smash Mouth’s mainstream popularity began to wane, though the band continued to tour. However, their later tours were marred by bizarre incidents, such as during a 2015 concert when Harwell began yelling at the audience after they reportedly threw pieces of bread at him.
Then, during a 2021 show, Harwell was filmed yelling obscenities at the crowd and slurring his speech. Shortly thereafter, Harwell announced his retirement from touring, citing his health, which had been impacted by his cardiomyopathy heart condition.
“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,” Harwell told TMZ at the time.
Smash Mouth has continued on with a new lead singer, Zach Goode.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.