Steve Harwell, the original singer of American 90's rock band Smash Mouth, died of Liver Failure on September 4 2023, just merely hours after it was announced he was in hospice care in Boisem Idaho. Many fans around the world were saddened by this news. Harwell retired from Smash Mouth back in 2021, after a turbulent interruption half way through a concert due to mental health issues, which was long term for Steve, mostly due to the effects of alcoholism, they were unable to finish performing the show. Steve later would announce his retirement from the group and newcomer Zach Goode joined in 2022. I like Zach. He's a great singer as well, and think he's the perfect fit for the band. But there was something about Steve that made the group even more special. From the cool character of his voice fitting in with pretty much any groove they had. He's the original one that could actually sing 'someBODY' at a concert and the whole arena would literally go crazy.
I saw Smash Mouth live in Sydney, Australia back in 2018 during a general tour. Their last album was 2012's 'Magic' - a nice effort of great new and original tunes plus a cover of Simple Mind's "Don't You Forget About Me", unfortunately - Steve's alcoholism would have started roughly around this period, according to members of the band. Despite battles with health both mental and physical, Steve carried on until he couldn't do it anymore, but lasted a really long time in the group in the end. They performed greatly when I saw them , playing hits such as "Can't Get Enough Of You Baby", "Radio", "Come On Come On", "Walkin' On The Sun", it ended up being a 16 track set list ending with "I'm A Believer" and of course "All Star" where during most of these songs anyway, the audience went absolutely bonkers.
I was sitting in front row and managed to get a great load of pictures of them, and I am thankful for that still to this day. My favourite moment of this concert was at the beginning, they walked out on stage. Steve was waving hello to us all, I gave him a thumbs up. He saw me do that, looked at me, pointed and gave me a thumbs up back. It's the fan appreciation he was always known for, and it was true. Despite ongoing troubles, he was a honest and down to earth great person, who provided entertainment and great songs to many generations.
I was born in the early 90's, and I was very familiar with Smash Mouth back then. In Australia, their first break out hit here was 'Walkin' On The Sun' which would have been back in around 1997 from my memory. And of course, 'All Star' was just as big then as it is now. I knew the track before Shrek. It featured in the wacky 1999 Inspector Gadget live action movie from Disney starring Matthew Broderick and Rupert Everett, and the Digimon movie in the year 2000. Then Shrek came along and turned it into the meme that it is today. Smash Mouth always seemed quite supportive of the memes as well.
Personally, my favourite Smash Mouth album is 2003's Get The Picture which included the great track "Hang On" and what I think is a completely underrated but great track "Space Man". From start to finish, like most Smash Mouth albums, it was all thriller and no filler.
Smash Mouth were also featured in a bunch of cartoon shows such as Kim Possible, Scooby Doo Where Are You (where they also played themselves for an episode), and We Bare Bears to name a few. They still continue to be a band today with lead vocallist Zach Goode, who's a fine singer too - check out their new song "Underground Sun" on Youtube:
Steve would have been happy that Smash Mouth are continuing on, and I hope they make a new album soon and dedicate it to him. Steve Harwell's music will continue to live on. Thank you Steve, you have truly been an inspiration and will be very much missed.
Photo credits: Smash Mouth performing in Sydney, Australia 2018 taken by Cameron Hons