Steve Harwell, leader of the Smash Mouth group, died from liver disease at the age of 56. Tributes to the singer appeared on social media in the following days, with fellow musicians describing times they had shared.
Chris Kirkpatrick of the group NSYNC was among many celebrities to pay tribute and said, “I’m truly sorry for the difficult battle you had to fight. You were an amazing soul and will be deeply missed.” Joey Fatone recounted that Harwell sang at his wedding, and they had known each other for a long time. “Sad all things must come to an end and sometimes too soon due to things that are past fixing because too much damage has been done,” Fatone wrote. He added that he hopes people struggling with addiction can find the help they need to recover.
Harwell battled with alcoholism for many years and suffered from a severe heart condition. In October 2021, he made headlines when he was due to perform in New York but arrived on stage appearing disorientated, and began yelling at the audience and slurring his words. He announced his retirement from music soon afterward.
A heart condition led to his hospitalization in 2013 when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – a condition in which the heart struggles to pump blood to the entire body. Four years later, he was hospitalized again when he developed breathing difficulties and was diagnosed with the neurological condition Wernicke encephalopathy, which affects memory and speech. He collapsed on stage in 2016, but the exact reason was unclear.
Smash Mouths had a series of hits in the 1990s and 2000s with All Star, Walkin’ on the Sun, and I’m a Believer. Harwell’s manager, Robert Hayes, said he died at his home in Idaho surrounded by family and friends. On announcing his retirement in 2021, the singer said he had achieved his dream of performing in large arenas, but his health would not allow him to continue.