(CNN) — Steve Harwell, the founding lead singer of the rock group Smash Mouth, died Monday, according to his manager.
He was 56.
No cause of death was shared, but Harwell had been receiving hospice care over the weekend. He died at his home in Boise, Idaho, with family and friends by his side, according Robert Hayes, the manager of Smash Mouth.
“Steve Harwell was a true American Original. A larger than life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle,” Hayes said in a statement to CNN. “Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom. And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition, and his king-size cajones.”
Harwell was a founding member in 1994 and longtime lead singer of Smash Mouth, best known for its chart-topping singles “All Star” and “I’m a Believer.”
During Harwell’s career, the band was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for “All Star,” a song which later achieved cult status after its appearance on the sound track of the 2001 animated film “Shrek.”
“It’s weird, people ask me, ‘Do you get bored of playing these songs?’ I’m like, ‘Why would I get bored of playing them? This is what puts bread and butter on my table,’” Harwell told Vice of the group’s best known hits in a 2014 interview. “You know, there’s always somebody in the crowd who hasn’t heard it. Or hasn’t seen it live. When I go out onstage, I look at it that way. Once that classic song starts, people just go bananas. Has ‘Free Bird’ ever got old?”
Harwell himself went to great lengths to boost the band’s early fame – personally taking their “Astro Lounge” to radio stations across the country to get it played across the airwaves.
“We never do anything traditional,” Harwell said in 1999. “We never go through the front door. It’s always the back door, or an open window or something, to get our stuff played.”
While Smash Mouth reached peak success the late nineties, the group continued performing together and their fans stayed with them.
“We’ve never sounded better,” Harwell said of touring in more recent years. “The shows have been great. Crowd response is fantastic. There’s just a great camaraderie in the band now. We’re all getting older, and I take more pride in it than I did years ago.”
Since Harwell left the band in 2021 over health issues, the group has continued to perform with new lead vocalist Zach Goode.
“Steve lived a 100% full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out,” Hayes concluded his statement. “Good night Heevo Veev. Rest in peace knowing you aimed for the stars, and magically hit your target.”
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