On Monday, Steve Harwell, the co-founder and original lead singer of Smash Mouth, the late ’90s California-based band known for songs like “Walkin’ on the Sun” and the timeless anthem “All Star,” passed away at his home in Boise, Idaho.
Steve Harwell, as confirmed by Harwell’s manager Robert Hayes to Variety, was undeniably an authentic American original. He embodied a larger-than-life persona that soared skyward like a Roman candle. Steve should be remembered for his unwavering dedication and passionate pursuit of pop stardom. What makes his achievements truly extraordinary is that he reached this seemingly insurmountable goal with minimal musical experience. He relied solely on his irrepressible charm, charisma, audacious ambition, and immense courage. Steve led a life at full throttle, burning brightly across the universe before ultimately fading away.
Over the past decade, Steven Scott Harwell, who had battled alcohol abuse for a long time, also grappled with several health issues that severely affected his motor skills, speech, and memory. These issues gradually began to impact his performances. In October 2021, following a concert in Bethel, N.Y., where he appeared intoxicated and confronted audience members, Harwell made the difficult decision to retire from Smash Mouth due to his ongoing health problems.
He expressed his sentiments, saying, “Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a rockstar performing in front of sold-out arenas, and I have been incredibly fortunate to live out that dream. To my bandmates, it has been an honor performing with you all these years, and I can’t imagine anyone else I would have preferred to embark on this wild journey with.”
Born on January 9, 1967, as Steven Scott Harwell in Santa Clara, Calif., he initially began his career as a rapper influenced by Chuck D with the hip-hop group F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech), which released a single titled “Big Black Boots” in 1993. However, he later transitioned to the alternative rock genre and co-founded Smashmouth, originally stylized as one word, with his childhood friend and drummer, Kevin Coleman, along with two members from the San Jose punk band Lackadaddy: songwriter-guitarist Greg Camp and bassist Paul De Lisle.