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Steve Harwell, Lead Singer Of Smash Mouth, Died At Age 56

Steve Harwell

Steve Harwell, the main vocalist of the American band Smash Mouth, has passed away at age 56. Harwell was in the terminal phases of liver failure and receiving end-of-life care at his residence, according to the band’s manager.

Robert Hayes stated in a statement that Harwell passed away “surrounded by family and friends” at his residence in Idaho.

Smash Mouth’s 1990s and 2000s successes included All-Star, Walkin’ on the Sun, and I’m a Believer.

Hayes added,

“Steve lived his life at full velocity. Burning brightly across the cosmos before extinguishing”

Steve Harwell left the band in 2021 due to mental and physical health issues. The musician, who battled alcoholism, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and a neurological disorder that affected his memory and speech in 2013.

His final decision to depart Smash Mouth came after he was recorded slurring his words and yelling at the audience during a performance in upstate New York while visibly intoxicated.

Smash Mouth’s long-time manager Robert Hayes verified to US media on 3 September that the singer did not have long to live, and was being cared for by his fiancée and hospice care.

Steve Harwell began his musical career with the rap ensemble F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech), whose style was influenced by the sample-heavy beats of Chuck D and Public Enemy.

Steve Harwell disbanded the ensemble after hearing Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s game-changing work on The Chronic and recognizing that the sound of rap was about to evolve.

Taking a detour into alternative rock, he began jamming with his old acquaintance Kevin Coleman, the drummer, and later founded Smash Mouth with Greg Camp and Paul De Lisle.

Their fusion of pop, ska, surf, and punk, along with retro 60s influences, produced an early success in Walkin’ On The Sun, which topped Billboard’s modern rock listings and helped their debut album Fush Yu Mang enter the Top 40.

Smash Mouth disproved the notion that they were a one-hit wonder with the release of their second album, Astro Lounge, in 1999.

It went triple platinum and included the hits Can’t Get Enough of You Baby and the immensely catchy All-Star, a tune that Rolling Stone magazine said: “mystified the world for 20 years.”

In 1999, Steve Harwell stated that he favored the second album to the band’s debut: “The songs are more spread out and less frantic.”

His distinctive, nasal rap voice was immediately recognizable, and a number of Smash Mouth’s songs went viral. All-Star, written by Camp, had the longest afterlife of any of his works.

It spawned dozens of memes, such as a Mario parody and a TikTok trend that syncs up Harwell’s opening lyrics with videos of people encountering various misfortunes.

In a 2017 interview with Polygon, Harwell commented on the song’s online popularity:

“At first, it was strange, and we were a little hesitant and resistant.”

“However, as we delved deeper and concentrated on it, we began ‘getting it.’ In addition, sales of [the song] have skyrocketed as a result.”

Although the band never achieved a similar level of success again, subsequent albums Smash Mouth (2001), Get the Picture? (2003), Summer Girl (2006), and Magic (2012) demonstrated a continued aptitude for dazzling pop melodies.

Steve Harwell endured a personal catastrophe in 2001 when his infant son Presley passed away due to complications from acute lymphocytic leukemia. According to reports, the musician helped establish a medical research fund in his son’s name.

After accepting a dare to consume 24 eggs, Harwell raised $15,000 for a children’s hospital ten years later.

However, his own poor health and alleged alcoholism impacted a number of his performances over the years.

In 2016, he collapsed on stage at an Illinois music festival. The following year, a performance in Memphis was canceled due to respiratory difficulties during the soundcheck. In 2018, he became unwell during a performance in Australia and was forced to exit the stage; the band continued without him.

In the year 2020, he dismissed the gravity of COVID-19 in front of a large audience at a South Dakota motorcycle rally. The National Institute of Health subsequently designated the rally as a superspreader event, and Smash Mouth reported receiving hate mail for performing there.

According to TMZ, his then-fiancée Esther Campbell filed a restraining order against him in the same year.

Steve Harwell stated, upon announcing his retirement in 2021, “I’ve tried so hard to overcome my physical and mental health issues and to play in front of you one last time, but I was unable to do so.”

The band’s manager added in a statement,

“Steve should be remembered for his unwavering determination to attain the pinnacle of musical stardom.

“And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible objective with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable.

“His only weapons were his unstoppable charisma and charm, his brazenly reckless ambition, and his king-sized moxie.

Good evening, Heevo Veev. Rest in serenity with the knowledge that you aimed for the stars and miraculously struck your mark. Those who knew and loved him will mourn his passing deeply.

Smash Mouth’s line-up has changed several times over the years – bassist Paul De Lisle is the only remaining original member – while Zach Goode took over as lead vocalist when Harwell retired.

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