Steve Harwell, the former lead vocalist of rock band Smash Mouth, died Monday at 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 Sept. 4, 2023 at his home in Boise, Idaho. He was surrounded by family and friends and passed peacefully and comfortably,” Hayes said in a statement.
“Steve Harwell was a true American Original. 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,” the statement continued. “And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable.”
Hayes added: “His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition. 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,” the statement concluded.
Hayes revealed on Sept. 3, 2023, the singer was “resting at home” and “being cared for by his fiancée and hospice care.” The rep adds that the family asks for “privacy during this difficult time.”
TMZ, the first outlet to report the news, reported Harwell has “reached the final stage of liver failure” due to alcohol.
With hits “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “All Star” and a cover of “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby,” Smash Mouth commandeered pop radio in the late ‘90s. Their quirky pop approach and Harwell’s distinctive rumble of a voice distinguished the band from peers, including Sugar Ray and Third Eye Blind, and helped push their major-label debut, Fush Yu Mang, to sell more than two million copies.
Success would escalate for Smash Mouth with their second album, 1999’s Astro Lounge, which unveiled “All Star,” a three-million-selling hit that reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains a pop culture touchstone.
In October 2021, Harwell announced his retirement from the band following a fumbled performance at a beer and wine festival. During an appearance with the band at The Big Sip in New York, a video of Harwell slurring his speech, cursing at the audience, and making a gesture that resembled a Nazi salute, became viral.
Following the performance, his reps said in a news release that the video had “been taken out of context” to misrepresent the singer. In a statement, Harwell’s reps then revealed that the frontman had been battling health issues for the past eight years from his cardiomyopathy diagnosis.
The heart disease led to “serious medical setbacks” for Harwell, including heart failure and acute Wernicke encephalopathy, which affected his speech and memory. According to his rep, Harwell “suffered numerous symptoms” from his medical condition during his performance in 2021.
“I’ve tried so hard to power through my physical and mental health issues and to play in front of you one last time, but I just wasn’t able to,” Harwell said in the news release.
“Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a rock star, performing in front of sold-out arenas, and have been so fortunate to live out that dream,” Harwell continued. “To my bandmates, it’s been an honor performing with you all these years, and I can’t think of anyone else I would have rather gone on this wild journey with. I cannot wait to see what Smash Mouth accomplishes next and am looking forward to counting myself as one of the band’s newest fans.”