Smash Mouth Singer Steve Harwell Is Dead At 56

 Screenshot of Steve Harwell in Smash Mouth music video for Then the Morning Comes
Screenshot of Steve Harwell in Smash Mouth music video for Then the Morning Comes

The rock music community was shocked to learn ahead of the Labor Day holiday that Smash Mouth co-founder and longtime lead singer Steve Harwell was on his deathbed in his home, with only days to live. Sadly, the musician’s manager confirmed that Harwell passed away on the morning of Monday, September 4, at the age of 56.

Harwell died in his Boise, Idaho home, where he was on hospice and receiving end-of-life care for final stage chronic liver failure. TMZ reports that friends and family were there in the end, helping to make sure he was able to find comfort and peace in his final hours.

While it’s not clear if an official cause of death was confirmed, Harwell’s manager says that his death was the result of liver failure, which was itself caused in part by heavy alcohol abuse, with which the singer struggled throughout his adult years. He'd previously been receiving treatments via hospital for his liver issues, which more recently became too severe to overcome.

Back in 2013, Steve Harwell was diagnosed with heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and Wernicke's encephalopathy, which had negative effects on his motor function skills, including speech and memory. Some of these inherent medical issues were reportedly made worse due to substance abuse.

Though he'd retired from the band in 2021, Smash Mouth shared an official message regarding Harwell's death on the social media platform X, which can be read below.

Steve Harwell was a true American Original. A larger than life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle. Steve will be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom. Rest in peace knowing you aimed for the stars, and magically hit your target. Rest easy

Harwell's split from Smash Mouth was a fairly controversial one at the time. In October 2021, the group performed in New York at the beer festival The Big Sip, where Harwell was seen to be drinking and swaying on stage, and was slurring his words on the microphone during the set, which was reportedly a struggle for the entire band due to sound system problems. More notably, Harwell threatened to kill an audience member's family, spoke about masturbation, and held up a Nazi salute, which drew much ire from the band's fanbase. (This came a year after the band performed at the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, where Harwell dropped an F-Bomb when speaking dismissively about COVID-19, with the event later being deemed a super-spreader.)

Following the criticism from that performance, Harwell publicly retired from Smash Mouth, saying at the time that physical and mental health issues were keeping him from being able to perform to the best of his abilities. The band continued making music with replacement singer Zach Goode.

Smash Mouth fans can pour one out for Steve Harwell while listening along to the band's 2003 track "You Are My Number One" with the music video below.

We at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to Steve Harwell’s family, friends, and former bandmates during this time of mourning.