Steve Harwell, founding member of Smash Mouth, dies aged 56

Steve Harwell, founding member of Smash Mouth, dies aged 56

Steve Harwell, the founding vocalist of rock band Smash Mouth, has died aged 56.

Harwell’s death was confirmed on Monday (4 September) by band manager Robert Hayes.

In a statement shared with Rolling Stone, Hayes said that Harwell – who founded the “All Star” band in 1994 – died at his home in Boise, Idaho “surrounded by family and friends”.

Hayes added that the musician had “passed peacefully and comfortably”, after earlier announcing that Harwell was receiving hospice care and being cared for by his fiancé.

Before returning home, Harwell had been been receiving treatment for liver complications in hospital. No cause of death has been given.

Smash Mouth formed in 1994, consisting of Harwell, drummer Kevin Coleman, guitarist Greg Camp, and bassist Paul De Lisle. Together, the band released seven studio albums, the most recent being 2012’s Magic.

Their debut single “Walkin’ on the Sun” topped the Billboard Modern Rock charts and reached No 19 in the UK Official Singles Chart in 1997.

However, it was 1999’s “All Star”, from their second album Astro Lounge, for which Harwell will predominantly be remembered. The song was nominated for a Grammy and reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Harwell on stage in 2015 (Getty Images)
Harwell on stage in 2015 (Getty Images)

“All Star” was given a second life when it featured in the 2001 animated film Shrek, and was revived once again in the 2010s when the scene in question became an internet meme.

Due to the track’s enduring legacy in popular culture, “All Star” was one of the most-streamed rock songs in the US from 2017 to 2021.

In a 2014 interview with Noisey, Harwell said that he would never tire of playing “All Star”.

“It feels like it came out yesterday,” he said. “It’s weird, people ask me, ‘Do you get bored of playing these songs?’ I’m like, ‘Why would I get bored of playing them? This is what puts bread and butter on my table.’”

Harwell in 2012 (Getty Images)
Harwell in 2012 (Getty Images)

Harwell retired from performing with Smash Mouth in 2021, with Hayes saying that “Steve’s legacy will live on through the music”.

“With Steve, Smash Mouth has sold over 10 million albums worldwide and topped the charts with two No 1 hit singles, five Top 40 singles, three Hot 100 singles, four Billboard 200 albums and a Grammy nomination not to mention the hundreds of film and television placements and of course those musical features in Shrek,” he said.

“Steve’s iconic voice is one of the most recognisable voices from his generation. He loved the fans and loved to perform. 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... Steve lived a 100 per cent full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out.”