Smash Mouth Lead Singer, Steve Harwell, Tragically Dead At 56

Steve Harwell, lead singer of pop-punk outfit Smash Mouth, sadly died on September 4, 2023. He was 56. Harwell had been placed in hospice care at his home for liver failure and given about a week to live, as TMZ reported on September 3, after being transferred out of a medical facility. Loved ones gathered at his home in the intervening days. Per The New York Times, Smash Mouth's agent, Robert Hayes, has not stated a specific cause of death.

For any child of the '90s or '00s — or just anyone who's seen "Shrek" — Harwell's voice will be instantly recognizable. He headed Smash Mouth during its late '90s to early '00s boom years, and lent his vocals to tracks like "All Star" and "Walkin' On the Sun," and snappy, bouncy covers of "Why Can't We Be Friends" and "I'm a Believer." Per Bestselling Albums, Smash Mouth has sold over 5 million records to date.

While Smash Mouth still exists and tours, they've done so without Harwell since 2021, as Billboard explains. Harwell had been experiencing substance abuse issues leading up his departure from the band, resulting in a now-infamous 2021 set where he could barely stand, cursed out the crowd, and more, per Vulture. He'd also been diagnosed with multiple disorders like cardiomyopathy, which affected his body's ability to pump blood, and acute Wernicke encephalopathy, which affected his ability to remember and produce language, as The Guardian explains

An all-star burning brightly

As My World Times says, Steve Harwell was born in 1967 in Santa Clara, California. By the time Smash Mouth formed in 1994 he'd already rotated through a couple bands, including "Magic Attic" and "The F.O.S." Smash Mouth's popularity took off right from the band's first album, 1997's "Fush Yu Mang," in no small part thanks to Harwell's energetic, lively presence and distinctive voice. But it was 1999's "Astro Lounge," which featured the band's colossal hit "All Star," that granted Smash Mouth its place in music history.

Tragically, Harwell experienced a terrible personal loss right when Smash Mouth were riding their initial wave of fame and success. In 2001 he and his wife Michelle Laroque's six-month-old son Presley died from acute lymphocytic leukemia. The BBC reports that he set up a medical fund following the incident, although details are scarce.

A 'True American Original'

Smash Mouth released their last studio album, "Magic," in 2012. After that, the band died down for a variety of reasons, including Harwell's increasing health problems and substance abuse. Harwell received his diagnosis of cardiomyopathy in 2013, and by 2016, he collapsed on stage, per the BBC. The same thing happened in 2018, and by 2021 he admitted that he couldn't perform anymore, saying, "I've tried so hard to power through my physical and mental health issues." On The Guardian, Smash Mouth's manager Robert Hayes said of Howell, "Steve lived a 100 percent full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out."

Smash Mouth provided a sweet tribute to their fallen brother on social media: "Steve Harwell was a true American Original. A larger than life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle. Steve will be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom. Rest in peace knowing you aimed for the stars, and magically hit your target. Rest easy."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).