Steve Harwell, former Smash Mouth singer, has died aged 56

Steve Harwell, the former lead singer of rock band Smash Mouth, died Monday at the age of 56.

Robert Hayes, a longtime manager of Harwell and the band, confirmed the singer’s death in a statement.

“Steve Harwell passed away this morning, September 4, 2023, at his home in Boise, Idaho. He was surrounded by family and friends and came by peacefully and relaxed,” Hayes said in a statement.

“Steve Harwell was a true American original. A larger-than-life figure that shot up into the sky like a Roman candle. Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and fierce determination to reach the heights of pop stardom,” the statement continued. “And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his achievements all the more remarkable.”

Hayes added, “His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly ruthless ambition. Steve lived a life of 100% flat out. It burns brightly throughout the universe before burning out.

“Rest in peace knowing that you aimed for the stars and magically hit your target. He will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him,” the statement concluded.

Hayes told USA TODAY on September 3 that the singer is “resting at home” and being “cared for by his fiancé and hospice care.” The representative adds that the family is asking for “privacy at this difficult time.”

TMZ, which was the first to broke the news, reported that Harwell had “reached end-stage liver failure” due to alcohol.

Smash Mouth conquered pop radio in the late ’90s with the hits “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “All Star,” and a cover of “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby.” Her quirky approach to pop and Harwell’s distinctive growling voice set the band apart from the likes of Sugar Ray and Third Eye Blind, and helped their major-label debut Fush Yu Mang sell more than two million copies.

Smash Mouth’s success increased with their second album Astro Lounge in 1999, which unveiled All Star, a three million-selling hit that reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains a pop culture touchstone .

In 2001, Smash Mouth turned the Neil Diamond/Monkees classic “I’m a Believer” into their own style and gave the band another Top 25 hit. The cover art – along with “All Star” – helped popularize the soundtrack to “Shrek” and appears in the animated comedy in a performance by Eddie Murphy’s donkey character.

Smash Mouth released their last studio album, Magic, in 2012.

In October 2021, Harwell announced his retirement from the band after a failed performance at a beer and wine festival. During a performance with the band at The Big Sip in New York, a video of Harwell slurring his speech, swearing at the audience and making a gesture resembling a Nazi salute went viral.

After the performance, his reps at the time said in a press release that the video was “taken out of context” to misrepresent the singer. In a statement, Harwell’s reps then revealed that the frontman had been struggling with health conditions for eight years stemming from his diagnosis of cardiomyopathy.

Heart disease led to “serious medical setbacks” for Harwell, including heart failure and acute Wernicke’s encephalopathy, the latter of which affected his speech and memory. According to his rep, Harwell “suffered from numerous symptoms” of his health condition during his 2021 performance.

“I tried so hard to get a handle on my physical and mental issues and play in front of you one last time, but I just couldn’t make it,” Harwell said in the press release.

“Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of being a rock star and performing to packed houses, and I was fortunate enough to make that dream a reality,” Harwell continued. “My bandmates have been honored to perform with you all these years and I can’t think of anyone I would rather have embarked on this wild journey with. I can’t wait to see what Smash Mouth will come up with next and look forward to being one of the band’s newest fans.”

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