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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Ben Beaumont-Thomas

Steve Harwell, Smash Mouth frontman, enters hospice care for liver failure

Steve Harwell performing in 2012.
Steve Harwell performing in 2012. Photograph: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Steve Harwell, the US singer with late-90s pop successes Smash Mouth, has been transferred to hospice care amid a struggle with liver disease.

His manager Robert Hayes told various US news outlets of the news, saying: “Although Steve is here with us still, sadly it will only be for a short time.” He told USA Today that Harwell is “resting at home” and “being cared for by his fiancee and hospice care”.

Harwell struggled with alcoholism and a number of other health issues. In 2013 he was diagnosed with the heart ailment cardiomyopathy and subsequently a neurological condition, acute Wernicke encephalopathy, which affected his memory and speech.

His career with Smash Mouth began in 1994, when he formed the band with three others. After being signed to Interscope, their success was swift, with debut single Walkin’ on the Sun reaching the UK Top 20 and debut album Fush Yu Mang eventually going double platinum in the US.

Their sound coalesced around an unusual blend of rock, pop, ska and lounge music, and 1999’s All Star became their signature hit, reaching the US Top 5 and finding enduring popularity from its high-profile inclusion on the Shrek soundtrack. It now boasts almost a billion streams on Spotify.

All Star’s accompanying album Astro Lounge was also successful, reaching the US Top 10, but Harwell suffered a tragedy at the height of the band’s fame when his six-month-old son died from leukemia. The band released another five albums, the most recent, Magic, in 2012.

He retired in 2021, telling fans: “I’ve tried so hard to power through my physical and mental health issues and to play in front of you one last time, but I just wasn’t able to.”

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