Just hours after fans learned Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell was on his death bed, the 56-year-old has died. Robert Hayes, Smash Mouth’s manager, confirmed the news in a statement, writing, “Steve Harwell passed away this morning September 4, 2023 at his home in Boise, Idaho. He was surrounded by family and friends and passed peacefully and comfortably.”
The cause of death was acute liver failure brought on by years of drug and alcohol abuse. Harwell had been placed in resting at home and was being cared for by his fiancé and hospice staff during the final stage of his illness. Harwell had been suffering from various health complications for years. According to a statement released in 2021, Harwell was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that can makes it hard for the heart to deliver blood to the body. Following his initial diagnosis, he suffered from “nonstop serious medical setbacks including heart failure as well as acute Wernicke Encephalopathy,” a condition that greatly impacted his motor functions, including speech and impaired memory.
Harwell wound up retiring from Smash Mouth in October 2021. He released a statement at the time that read: “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. 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.”
Smash Mouth was formed in 1994 by Harwell, guitarist Greg Camp, bassist Paul De Lisle and drummer Kevin Coleman. The band’s first single, 1997’s “Walkin’ on the Sun,” started garnering national attention. In 1999, the group landed in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 with “All Star,” which peaked at No. 4. Astro Lounge, Smash Mouth’s sophomore album, peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart the same year. The song found new popularity in 2001 when it was featured in the Oscar-winning animated film Shrek.
But as the years went on, Harwell’s behavior grew increasingly bizarre. During a family-friendly event in Fort Collins, Colorado, Harwell flipped out after a few people in the crowd started tossing slices of bread on stage. Seemingly intoxicated, Harwell told the crowd, “If you throw one more f###ing thing onstage, I’m gonna come find your a##, I’m gonna beat your a##, whoever the f### you are out there.” He ultimately walked offstage.
Smash Mouth continues to tour with vocalist Zach Goode, who joined the band in 2022.