Steve Harwell, Former Smash Mouth Lead Singer, Dies at 56

Steve Harwell, the former lead vocalist of the renowned rock group Smash Mouth, famous for their 1999 smash hit “All Star,” passed away at the age of 56. His demise occurred on Monday at his residence in Boise, Idaho, and was confirmed by the band’s manager, Robert Hayes, attributing it to liver failure.

Steve Harwell was a founding member of Smash Mouth, a band formed in 1994 in San Jose, California, comprising Kevin Coleman on drums, Greg Camp on guitar, and Paul De Lisle on bass. Their breakthrough came with the 1997 hit “Walkin’ on the Sun,” featured on their debut album, “Fush Yu Mang.” Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2019, Harwell emphasized the transformative impact of the song on the music landscape: “‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ changed music. It changed the way people listen to music. It was so different and unusual, with a sound we created. You can’t replicate it; ask anyone who’s tried.”

Even greater success awaited them with the release of their subsequent album, “Astro Lounge,” in 1999, and its chart-topping anthem, “All Star,” which earned a Grammy Award nomination. The song also found its way into various films, gaining renewed popularity when featured in the opening credits of the Academy Award-winning animated film “Shrek.”

Harwell acknowledged the unexpected impact of “Shrek,” saying, “We had no clue how big ‘Shrek’ was going to be.” Their song “All Star” also appeared on the soundtrack of the 1999 film “Mystery Men.”

“All Star” has since become a perennial favorite, inspiring numerous online parodies. Almost 25 years later, Harwell’s voice remains synonymous with the song’s iconic opening lines: “Somebody once told me / The world is gonna roll me / I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.” The track boasts close to a billion streams on Spotify, while “Walkin’ on the Sun” and their cover of the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” (featured in the “Shrek” soundtrack) have also amassed hundreds of millions of streams.

Harwell parted ways with the band in 2021 and retired from live performances following an incident in upstate New York where he appeared intoxicated on stage. Earlier that year, he had taken a hiatus from live shows due to heart issues, as reported by various media outlets.

Despite the changing lineup over the years, Smash Mouth continues to perform, with a recent show scheduled for Illinois. However, their enduring legacy will forever be intertwined with “All Star,” a fact not lost on Harwell, who once remarked, “Nobody else could have sung 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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