Former Smash Mouth Lead Singer Steve Harwell Dies

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Steve Harwell in Smash Mouth’s 1999 video for “All Star”

Steve Harwell, the longtime lead singer and frontman for the rock group Smash Mouth, died today (September 4, 2023), one day after it was revealed that he was in hospice care. News of his death at age 56 at his home in Boise, Idaho, was confirmed by the band’s agent, Brian Hayes, per the New York Times. The news of Harwell’s hospice care was first shared by TMZ one day earlier. Their report noted that he had only days to live. The website had noted that Harwell, who sang lead on such hits as “All Star” and a cover of “I’m a Believer,” was in the final stage of liver failure after years of alcohol abuse. The celebrity news outlet reported that the singer was at home upon leaving a hospital.

When news arrived of Harwell’s imminent demise, a rep for the singer told The Hollywood Reporter, “Although Steve is here with us still, sadly it will only be for a short time.” He passed just one day later.

Smash Mouth formed in San Jose, Calif., in 1994 with Harwell, Greg Camp, Kevin Coleman and Paul De Lisle. After signing with Interscope Records, they issued their debut album in 1997. The 1999 follow-up, Astro Lounge, included “All Star,” which vaulted Smash Mouth into superstar status. The perpetually catchy earworm of a track reached #4 on the Hot 100 and ultimately garnered a GRAMMY® Award nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and helped the album achieve triple-platinum status. Written by Camp, the band’s former guitarist, “All Star” not only captured the vibe of the times, but it became an instant singalong smash reflecting its intrinsic relatability across the globe. Initially aligned with the 1999 cult-favorite film Mystery Men and the family-friendly Inspector Gadget, “All Star” graced the opening credits of Shrek two years later, catapulting the song into the stratosphere of best-loved tracks that continue to inspire the pursuit of personal growth. “All Star” has also long since become one of the most popular meme-springboard subjects on record.

Related: From the same era… New Radicals—Remember them?

The band had just two other pop hits, “Then the Morning Comes” and a cover of the Monkees’ ’60s hit “I’m a Believer.” Harwell was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2013. In 2021, while onstage at a concert at Bethel Woods Center For the Arts, the site of the original Woodstock festival, Harwell appeared to be intoxicated. He retired not long after, citing ongoing health issues.

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