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Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell dies at 56

Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell dies at 56

Steve Harwell, founding member and former frontman of Smash Mouth, has died at 56 from liver failure.

Harwell passed peacefully on Monday morning at his home in Idaho surrounded by family and friends, his manager Robert Hayes confirmed to EW.

"Steve Harwell was a true American original," Hayes said in a statement. "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. And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. 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. Rest in peace knowing you aimed for the stars, and magically hit your target."

"He will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him," Hayes concluded.

Steve Harwell
Steve Harwell

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Steve Harwell

Hayes previously confirmed to EW that Harwell only had a "week or so to live" as he reached the final stages of liver failure, sharing that friends and family had gathered to visit him in the last three days.

Harwell was born Jan. 9, 1967 in Santa Clara, Calif. A former rapper with the group F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech), Harwell formed Smash Mouth in San Jose in 1994 with Kevin Coleman on drums, Greg Camp on guitar, and Paul De Lisle on bass. They named the band after a football term for an offensive system.

After gaining some traction in San Jose, the band signed to Interscope Records and released their debut album Fush Yu Mang in 1997. Propelled by lead single "Walkin' on the Sun," the album went double platinum. The album also featured a cover of "Why Can't We Be Friends" that was used in the 1998 Kevin Bacon drama Wild Things.

Greg Camp (L) and Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth perform during Live 105's BFD at Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 18, 1999 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Greg Camp (L) and Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth perform during Live 105's BFD at Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 18, 1999 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Steve Harwell on stage with Smash Mouth

In 1999, Smash Mouth returned with their second album Astro Lounge, which included the ubiquitous "All Star." The hit song was featured on several film soundtracks, such as Inspector Gadget, Mystery Men, and most notably, Shrek. The 2001 comedy Rat Race culminates on stage at a Smash Mouth concert, with the cast members dancing along to "All Star" during the closing credits. The band also recorded a cover of The Monkees' "I'm a Believer" for the Shrek soundtrack.

Though the band's popularity waned as the new millennium wore on, Smash Mouth continued to record and perform. In 2013, Harwell was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which led to medical setbacks including heart failure and acute Wernicke Encephalopathy.

In 2016, Harwell collapsed during a performance and was rushed to the hospital. The following year, Smash Mouth postponed several performances as Harwell underwent treatment for heart problems. In 2021, Harwell retired from performing altogether, citing ongoing health issues.

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