Steve Harwell, the original lead vocalist for Smash Mouth, has reportedly died of liver failure
Steve Harwell, the original lead singer and co-founder of US rock band Smash Mouth, has reportedly died at age 56 after his struggles with alcohol abuse led to liver failure.
Harwell passed away at his home in Boise, Idaho, on Monday, just one day after media reports indicated that he was receiving hospice care and was at the “final stage” of liver failure. He retired from Smash Mouth in 2021 because of health issues.
The band, founded in 1994, rose to greater prominence when its chart-topping songs ‘All Star’ and ‘I’m a Believer’ were featured on the soundtrack of ‘Shrek,’ an animated blockbuster that ranked as one of the top-grossing films of 2001. Although Smash Mouth members bristled at their success being attributed to the movie, noting that they had multiple hit songs before ‘Shrek’ came along, co-founder Paul DeLisle later embraced the band’s association with the film. He even joked that Harwell “kind of vaguely resembles Shrek.”
Smash Mouth sold over 10 million albums globally and scored five Top 40 singles, including ‘Walkin on the Sun’, ‘Then the Morning Comes’ and ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’. The band continues to perform with Harwell’s replacement, Zach Goode, serving as lead vocalist.
Harwell was previously diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease. He left the band after an October 2021 performance at a festival in New York, where he slurred his words, cursed at the audience and made crude gestures. His representative attributed the outburst to his health problems, and Harwell issued a statement saying he would no longer be able to perform with Smash Mouth.
“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,” the singer said. “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.”
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Smash Mouth manager Robert Hayes told Rolling Stone that Harwell “passed peacefully and comfortably” and was surrounded by family and friends. “Steve’s iconic voice is one of the most recognizable voices from his generation,” Hayes said in a statement. “He loved the fans and loved to perform. Steve Harwell was a true American original.”
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