Smash Mouth, which last made headlines here and elsewhere for performing in the middle of a pandemic at the August 2020 Sturgis motorcycle rally/super-spreader event, no longer has a lead singer. And the Bay Area band's longtime frontman Steve Harwell says he's retiring to focus on his mental and physical health.
The announcement comes after a particularly chaotic show the band did over the weekend at the Big Sip festival near Syracuse, New York, clips of which were posted to TikTok and have gone viral.
In the clips, Harwell can be seen sipping from beer cans on stage, doing an apparent Nazi salute, dropping a can off the stage, bringing a random woman from the audience on stage who screamed "It's my fuckin' birthday!", and then not even singing during the band's most famous track, "All Star," but instead just talking into the mic and saying things like "If I could suck my own dick I'd never leave the house," and "I'll fucking kill your whole family, I swear to god."
As the TikTok user who posted the video said, "When I say this was the most chaotic show I've ever seen in my life... I have no words."
Ignoring the fact that Harwell was clearly drinking alcohol onstage and suffers from a chronic neurological condition, Wernicke encephalopathy, which is associated with chronic alcoholism, a rep for the singer tells the New York Post, "Steve has been dealing with long-term medical issues over the last eight years and during his last performance at the Big Sip stage, he suffered numerous symptoms directly linked with his current medical situation."
Harwell gave his own statement to TMZ and others announcing his retirement Tuesday, saying, "Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a rock star, performing in front of sold-out arenas and have been so fortunate to live out that dream. To my bandmates, it’s been an honor performing with you all these years and I can’t think of anyone else I would have rather gone on this wild journey with."
He continued, "To our loyal and amazing fans, thank you, all of this was possible because of you. 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. I am so grateful to each and every one of you who has helped Smash Mouth sell over 10 million albums worldwide, put us on top of radio charts and those who have kept ‘All Star’ relevant as one of the top memes on the internet today."
Harwell had previously taken a few weeks off from touring with the band, as People Magazine reported just a week ago, due to what they said were "heart health issues."
Smash Mouth formed in 1994, beginning with Harwell and drummer Kevin Coleman, who met as twentysomethings in San Jose — Harwell had previously attended Prospect High School in Saratoga. Joined by bassist Paul DeLisle and guitarist Greg Camp, the band was signed by Interscope in 1997 and put out their first album, Fush Yu Mang, that year. Their first hit single, the ska-influenced "Walkin' on the Sun," was on that album, and by their second album, Astro Lounge, they were doing more pop-rock stuff like "All Star."
Last weekend's meltdown by Harwell and chaos on stage was not the first public incident of its kind, and it's been eight years since Harwell disclosed his medical condition, which has impacts on his speech and motor control.
In the past decade, Smash Mouth has taken whatever gigs they could get, and they were similarly playing at a food festival in 2015, Taste of Fort Collins in Fort Collins, Colorado, when Harwell similarly threatened the audience and went into an expletive-laden rant on stage (allegedly about audience members throwing bread).
During their Sturgis performance last year, Harwell exclaimed, "fuck that COVID shit" on stage.
Top Photo: Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth performs during KAABOO Del Mar at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on September 15, 2017 in Del Mar, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)