Steven Scott Harwell, the band Smash Mouth’s lead singer, was born on January 9, 1967, in Santa Clara, California. Greg Camp formed Smash Mouth in 1994 with Harwell, Kevin Coleman, and Paul De Lisle. They first succeeded with their 1997 song “Walkin’ on the Sun”.
Formed in late 1994, the band immediately began recording demos and showcasing in both San Jose and Hollywood. In June of 1997, Smash Mouth was signed to Interscope Records when label brass caught wind of an unknown (and unsigned) band being added to the L.A. radio station KROQ’s playlist after only one spin of their song “Walkin’ On The Sun”.
This song is from their debut album, Fush Yu Mang (1997). Released as their debut single in June 1997, the song was Smash Mouth’s first major single, reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart. The title of the album was taken from a line (“fuck you, man!”) slurred by Al Pacino in Scarface.
It was written during the whole Rodney King thing. The song was basically a social and racial battle cry. It was a sort of “Can’t we all get along?” song for the time when I wrote it. It was just about all the things that were going on around me as a young person. And I’m, like, God, what is going on? I don’t understand why this is happening. It’s like we might as well be walking around a planet on fire. And that’s how it came about.Smash Mouth guitarist Greg Camp
Their follow-up album is called “Astrolounge”, boasting three top-ten hits (“All-Star”, “Then The Morning Comes”, and “Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby”). Sales for “Astrolounge” nearly double those for “Fush Yu Mang”, approaching nearly quadruple Platinum status. “All Star” was written by Greg Camp and produced by Eric Valentine, the song was released on May 4, 1999
Camp described the song as “a daily affirmation that life is, in general, good”, something he called a “tradition” for Smash Mouth; according to him, the band frequently read fan mail they received from kids, parents, and teachers thanking them for making “fun and lighthearted” music. In addition to this, Camp has said that the second verse addresses climate change and the hole in the Ozone layer.
“Then the Morning Comes” was released on September 14, 1999. It peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 2 in Canada, number 17 in Iceland, and number 22 in New Zealand. “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby” was written by Denny Randell and Sandy Linzer and first recorded by the Four Seasons in 1965.
Among others, ? and the Mysterians recorded it in 1967 for their second album Action. Smash Mouth covered it for the soundtrack to the 1998 film Can’t Hardly Wait and also released it as the lead single. In early 2007, Pizza Hut aired a series of commercials featuring “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby” in the background.
In 2001, Smash Mouth covered the Monkees’ hit song “I’m a Believer”. It was featured on both the soundtrack for Shrek (along with “All Star”) and their third studio, self-titled, album. The song was written by Neil Diamond and recorded by the Monkees in 1966.
The single, produced by Jeff Barry, hit the number-one spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 31, 1966, and remained there for seven weeks. While Smash Mouth only got the song to number 25, it is one of their most well-known songs.
Harwell retired from Smash Mouth in 2021, and the band continues to tour with new vocalist Zach Goode. Steve Harwell died early Monday, September 4, 2023, at his home in Boise, Idaho at the age of 56.
Steve Harwell was a true American Original. 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. Rest in peace knowing you aimed for the stars, and magically hit your target. Rest easy.Smash Mouth
- Rodney King was an African American man whose brutal beating by Los Angeles police officers in 1991 was captured on video, leading to a high-profile trial and subsequent riots in 1992. The video footage of King being struck by batons and kicked by officers sparked outrage and ignited discussions about police brutality and racial tensions in the United States. The four officers involved in the beating were acquitted in a controversial trial, which further fueled unrest. The subsequent Los Angeles riots resulted in widespread violence and destruction. Rodney King’s case became a symbol of the need for police reform and increased scrutiny of law enforcement practices, leaving a lasting impact on the discourse surrounding racial injustice and police accountability. [Back]
- Cardiomyopathy is a medical condition characterized by the weakening or dysfunction of the heart muscle, which can lead to reduced heart pumping ability and, in some cases, heart failure. There are various types of cardiomyopathy, including dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and restrictive cardiomyopathy, each with its distinct causes and characteristics. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen legs and ankles, and an irregular heartbeat. Treatment typically involves medication, lifestyle changes, and, in severe cases, heart transplants. Cardiomyopathy can be caused by genetic factors, infections, alcohol or drug abuse, and other underlying health conditions, making early diagnosis and management crucial for preventing complications and improving quality of life. [Back]
- Wernicke encephalopathy is a neurological disorder characterized by a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1) in the brain, often resulting from chronic alcohol abuse, malnutrition, or other medical conditions that impair thiamine absorption. It manifests with a range of symptoms, including mental confusion, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination), oculomotor disturbances (abnormal eye movements), and memory deficits. If left untreated, it can progress to Korsakoff syndrome, a chronic and debilitating condition involving severe memory impairment and confabulation. Wernicke encephalopathy requires immediate medical intervention with thiamine replacement to prevent irreversible brain damage and associated complications. [Back]
- “Steve Harwell, former Smash Mouth frontman, dies at 56, representative says” (SEPTEMBER 4, 2023) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/steve-harwell-dies-smash-mouth-frontman-steve-harwell-dies-representative-says/
- “Rodney King” https://www.history.com/topics/1990s/rodney-king
- “Smash Mouth” (updated September 7, 2023) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smash_Mouth#Discography
- “Cardiomyopathy” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cardiomyopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370709
- “Steve Harwell” (updated September 7, 2023) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Harwell
- “Wernicke encephalopathy” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513315/