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

Steve Harwell, the founder and singer of hit late 1990s and early 2000s band Smash Mouth, has died. He was 56.

A rep for Harwell tells The Hollywood Reporter the musician passed away peacefully and comfortably in his home in Boise, Idaho, on Monday, surrounded by his friends and family. News broke on Sunday that the artist was in hospice care due to liver failure.

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“Steve’s legacy will live on through the music,” the rep says. “Steve’s iconic voice is one of the most recognizable voices from his generation. He loved the fans and loved to perform.”

As the lead singer of Smash Mouth, the band sold over 10 million albums worldwide and had multiple hit songs, including “All Star” and their cover of The Monkee’s “I’m a Believer,” both of which were made even more popular by their use in the Shrek franchise.

“Steve Harwell was a true American Original,” the band’s official Twitter account shared in honor of the late singer. “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.”

Harwell founded the band in 1994 in San Jose, California, with his fellow members Kevin Coleman on drums, Greg Camp on guitar and Paul De Lisle on bass, after they were introduced to each other by their eventual manager Robert Hayes.

“Walkin’ on the Sun” from their debut album Fush Yu Mang, was the band’s first hit, with Harwell telling Rolling Stone in 2019 that it “changed music.”

“It changed the way people listen to music,” he told the publication. “I’ve talked to other artists over the years and they said the day that song came on radio, they were like, ‘We’re fucked.’ 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.”

When Harwell retired from the band in 2021, De Lisle remained the only original member. Smash Mouth was also known for other songs like their cover of “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and “Then The Morning Comes” from their second album, Astro Lounge.

Harwell is survived by his fiancé, Annette; sisters Carla, Michelle and Julie; and his brother, Mark.

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