Smash Mouth Founder Dead: Steve Harwell Has Passed Away At 56

The founding singer and frontman of popular ’90s and early ’00s pop-rock band Smash Mouth has passed away. Steve Harwell, who helped create the band in 1994, died at the age of 56 at his home in Boise, Idaho, surrounded by family and friends. Perhaps most famously known for hits like I’m A Believer and All Star, Harwell’s band has long been a staple on the rock-music scene. He will be remembered by fans and loved ones worldwide.

What was the cause of Steve Harwell’s death?

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Harwell was reportedly in hospice care for medical complications prior to his passing. The official cause of death was liver failure, according to his manager, Robert Hayes. He shared that Harwell “passed peacefully and comfortably”. Hayes also offered a lenghty tribute to the artist, acknowledging him as a prominent figure in ’90s rock music, with multiple albums and hit singles under his belt.

“Steve has been retired from Smash Mouth for two years now, and the band continues to tour with new vocalist Zach Goode,” wrote Hayes. “That said, 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.”

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“Steve’s iconic voice is one of the most recognizable 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. And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. 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.”

Robert Hayes
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What’s Steve Harwell’s legacy in the music industry?

Though he had not been an active member of Smash Mouth since 2021, Steve Harwell and Paul Delisle are the only two original band members who had worked consistently throughout the majority of the group’s run. Harwell’s music career began in San Jose, California as a member of the rapper group F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech). Following the group’s demise, he teamed up with drummer Kevin Coleman in 1990. Together with guitarist Greg Camp and bassist Paul Delisle, they formed the iconic Smash Mouth.

The four-member band released two demos that received positive airplay on a local radio station. Their first performance was alongside No Doubt and Beck at a summer festival. Shortly after, their debut album, Fush Yu Mang, arrived in 1997 via Interscope, featuring hit song Walkin’ on the Sun, which climbed to the number one spot on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart and made its way to the number two spot on the Hot 100 list. His fiancée Annette, his sisters Carla, Michelle, and Julie, as well as his brother Mark, are Harwell’s survivors.