Smash Mouth Loses Its 'All Star' Frontman

Steve Harwell is dead at 56 of acute liver failure, per the band's manager
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 4, 2023 12:45 PM CDT
Smash Mouth Loses Its 'All Star' Frontman
In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo, Singer Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth performs with the band in Anaheim, California.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Steve Harwell, the longtime frontman of the Grammy-nominated pop rock band Smash Mouth, has died. He was 56. The band's manager, Robert Hayes, said Harwell "passed peacefully and comfortably" Monday morning surrounded by family and friends at his home in Boise, Idaho, per the AP. The cause of death was acute liver failure, Hayes said in a statement. Smash Mouth was known for such hits as "All Star" and "Then the Morning Comes." "Steve Harwell was a true American Original. A larger than life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle," the band said in a statement. "Steve will be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom."

Born in California in 1967, Harwell performed in a rap group called FOS (Freedom of Speech) before forming Smash Mouth in 1994. The band released two platinum albums on Interscope Records: the ska-fueled 1997 Fush Yu Mang, and 1999's Astro Lounge. The second album featured some of the band's biggest hits, including the Grammy-nominated platinum single "All Star," which appeared in the movie Shrek, alongside their cover of the Monkees' "I'm a Believer."

Humor was a driving force behind Smash Mouth's success, and at the forefront was Harwell's playful alt-rock voice and persona. He made a cameo in the 2001 comedy film Rat Race and had a well-documented friendship with the Food Network chef and host Guy Fieri. Harwell left Smash Mouth in 2021 and the band continued to tour with Zach Goode as the singer. The band released a statement at the time saying Harwell had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy eight years earlier and had suffered "nonstop serious medical setbacks, including heart failure, as well as acute Wernicke encephalopathy."

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Hayes had released a statement on Sunday saying Harwell was in hospice care. "His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition, and his king-size cojones," Hayes said after Harwell's death. "Steve lived a 100% full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out. He will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him." Harwell will be cremated in Boise and buried in San Jose, California, alongside his mother, Hayes said.

(More Smash Mouth stories.)

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