Photo: JTF Guantanamo photo by Army Pfc. Eric Liesse - Public Domain

Smash Mouth’s Steve Harwell: Dead At 56

Famous for his omnipresent 1999 hit “All Star,” Steve Harwell, the former lead singer of the rock band Smash Mouth, died on Monday (9.04) at the age of 56.

Confirmed by the band’s manager, Robert Hayes, the band’s front man passed away due to liver failure at his home in Boise, Idaho.

Formed in San Jose, California in 1994, Smash Mouth consisted of Harwell, Kevin Coleman on the drums, Greg Camp on the guitar, and Paul De Lisle on the bass.

The band’s first hit was “Walkin’ on the Sun,” in 1997 which appeared on their debut album, “Fush Yu Mang.” And in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2019 Harwell said “‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ changed music. It changed the way people listen to music,” “It was so different and it was so unusual, and it was so special. It just had that sound that we created. Ask anybody that’s tried to copy us, you can’t. You just can’t.”

In 1999 the pop rockers recognized even greater success with the release of their follow up LP, “Astro Lounge,” that included and the #1 single “All Star” that was nominated for a Grammy Award, appeared in numerous movies, and recognized newfound popularity two years later when it was featured in the opening credits of “Shrek,” the Academy Award-winning animated film about an ogre voiced by Mike Myers.

In 2019, Harwell told Rolling Stone.“We had no clue how big ‘Shrek’ was going to be,” and “All Star” also appeared on the soundtrack for the 1999 film “Mystery Men,” whose characters feature in the song’s music video.

“All Star” has accumulated almost one billion streams on Spotify. “Walkin’ on the Sun” and “I’m a Believer,” (a cover of the Monkees song that also appeared on the “Shrek” soundtrack,) have also garnered hundreds of millions of streams.

In 2021 Harwell left the band and retired from performing after a live show in upstate New York during which he is seen slurring his words and using profanity. Earlier that year, Steve took a break from live performing because of heart problems, according to several news media reports at the time.

Throughout the years Smash Mouth has had a rotating lineup but had not released a new studio album in about ten years until “Underground Sun” this year, with a different lead singer.

While the band still performs live, it will forever be associated with “All Star,” something that Harwell was aware of, as told Rolling Stone in 2019 “Nobody else could have sang that song.”“It would have never been what it is now. I could’ve pitched that song to a million bands and they would have tried to do it, and it would’ve never been what it is.”

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Author: Saul Goode

Photo: JTF Guantanamo photo by Army Pfc. Eric Liesse – Public Domain