‘All Star’ Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell dies at 56

Steve Harwell, the former lead vocalist of the American rock band Smash Mouth, has passed away at age 56.

His manager, Robert Hayes, announced in a statement that Harwell died “peacefully and comfortably” at his home in Boise, Idaho, surrounded by his family and friends. He died of acute liver failure on 4 September.

A day before his death, it was announced that Harwell was receiving hospice care for final-stage chronic liver failure and only had a few days to live.

Harwell’s musical career began when he played in a rap group called F.O.S (Freedom of Speech). Later on, Smash Mouth was formed along with drummer Kevin Coleman, whom he met in 1990, guitarist Greg Camp and bassist Paul De Lisle.


Rock music

While largely performing rock music during their earlier years, record labels saw the group’s potential after a demo of their song “Nervous in the Alley” was played at a local radio station.

After signing with Interscope Records, they released their debut album, Fush Yu Mang, in 1997. A ska, reggae, pup-punk album that includes their first major hit, “Walkin’ on the Sun,” which has a distinctive, psychedelic soul and soul-funk music style.

Their sophomore album, Astro Lounge, became a global success and one of their most critically acclaimed albums. It included the band’s biggest single, “All Star,” which was frequently featured in films like Inspector Gadget (1999), Mystery Men (1999), Digimon: The Movie (200), Rat Race (2001) and Shrek (2001). “All Star” also earned its first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

The Grammy-nominated rock band released five more studio albums in the following years: Smash Mouth (2001), Get the Picture? (2003), The Gift of Rock (2005), Summer Girl (2006) and Magic (2012).

Amid his band’s skyrocketing popularity, Harwell’s son, Presley, died in 2001 from acute lymphocytic leukemia. His son was only six months old.

Health issues

The former rock singer had been battling numerous health issues. In 2013, he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that can lead to heart failure; and acute Wernicke encephalopathy, a neurological disease that impairs speech, memory and muscle coordination.

The “All Star” singer also struggled with alcoholism throughout his adult life. Harwell announced his retirement from the band in 2021 over ongoing physical and mental health issues.

With the band’s iconic ‘90s legacy and Harwell’s unique music influence, the rock singer lived a “100-percent full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out,” said Hayes.

Smash Mouth’s official Instagram account paid tribute to Harwell: “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.”