Smash Mouth Singer Steve Harwell Tragically Passed Away At 56

Smash Mouth Singer Steve Harwell Tragically Passed Away At 56 | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Rock Feed / Youtube

Former lead singer of Smash Mouth and the iconic voice behind the meme treasure trove classic hit “All Star” Steve Harwell died early Monday at his home in Boise, Idaho due to liver failure. He was 56.

Robert Hayes, the band’s manager, has confirmed to sad news to Rolling Stone, saying that the musician was being “surrounded by family and friends” when he “passed peacefully and comfortably”.

Although Harwell has retired from Smash Mouth for two years and the band tours with new vocalist Zach Goode, Hayes expressed in the statement that “Steve’s legacy will live on through the music”.

“With Steve, Smash Mouth has sold over 10 Million albums worldwide-wide and topped the charts with two #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.”

Reactions from fans and Smash Mouth

Harwell’s death comes as a shock to fans around the world, despite the news that he was in critical condition days ago after battling liver failure. The frontman even entered hospice care and his family is saying their goodbyes.

The band’s official Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) accounts paid tribute to the former frontman with moving posts.

The posts alluded Harwell to a Roman candle “who shot up into the sky. “Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom,” the post continued.

Both Smash Mouth and Shrek fans also felt the loss, and the social media sites were abuzz with tribute messages and condolences.

Smash Mouth’s manager continued, “Steve’s iconic voice is one of the most recognizable voices from his generation. He loved the fans and loved to perform.”

And Harwell was indeed one of the most recognizable voices of today, thanks to the success of their 1999 song “All Star”, which was prominently featured in the 2001 computer-animated hit Shrek.

With one of the most memeified lines in the history of modern music, Harwell will always be remembered not just for his memorable voice, but also for his charm as the lead singer of one of the most popular “dad bands”.

From failed rap career to “All Star”

Harwell started as a rapper in San Jose, California with a rap group called F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech). He recalled being into Chuck D in those days, and his struggles at least got him on record in one song called “Black Boots”.

Harwell got tired of hip-hop and, looking at his manager, he said “I want to start an alternative rock band.” And a rock band he found.

Harwell grouped up with drummer Kevin Coleman, guitarist Greg Camp, and bassist Paul Delisle, and started gaining airplay and a performance slot at a summer festival alongside No Doubt and Beck. 

They were exactly not an alternative act at the start, as evident in their 1997 ska-punk debut album Fush Mu Yang. The album spawned their first hit, a 60s retro-pop sounding  “Walkin’ on the Sun”, which went on to score a No.1 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks.

Their second offering, 1999’s Astro Lounge, went more left-field with obscure trippy tunes, departing from their ska-punk sound, particularly with their pop tracks “Diggin’ Your Scene” and “Then The Morning Comes”.

But it was “All Star” that catapulted Smash Mouth to omnipresence, after it became a favorite soundtrack in comedy films, particularly the 1999 superhero movie Mystery Men and the 2001 computer-animated smash hit Shrek.

The song’s inclusion in Shrek was the gold mine that continued to earn the band royalties and weird meme connections until today.

The legacy of an all-star

In the statement above, Hayes concluded: “His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition, and his king-size cajones. Steve lived a 100 percent full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out.”

Despite years of health complications and well-documented onstage outbursts, Harwell has always been a steady presence on the internet, and fans will always remember his voice and charm.

His rockstar beliefs and spirit will always be encapsulated in “All Star”:

Hey now, you’re an all star / Get your game on, go play
Hey now, you’re a rock star / Get the show on, get paid
And all that glitters is gold / Only shooting stars break the mold

Harwell was a shooting star who indeed broke the mold.