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Steve Harwell, the former lead singer of Smash Mouth, has died at 56

Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth seen at KAABOO 2017 at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in San Diego, Calif.
Amy Harris/Invision
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AP
Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth seen at KAABOO 2017 at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in San Diego, Calif.

Steve Harwell, the former lead singer and frontman for the rock band Smash Mouth, has died at his home in Boise, Idaho. He was 56 years old.

His death was confirmed by the band's manager, Robert Hayes, who said the cause was acute liver failure. He said Harwell was "surrounded by family and friends and passed peacefully and comfortably."

Harwell founded Smash Mouth in 1994. He and the band, including Greg Camp on guitar, Paul De Lisle on bass and Kevin Coleman on drums, shot to fame with hits such the 1997's "Walking on the Sun" and "All Star" from the 1999 album Astro Lounge. "All Star" appeared in the 2001 animated movie Shrek, as did the band's cover version of the Monkees' classic "I'm a Believer."

Hayes said with Harwell, Smash Mouth sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo, singer Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth performs with the band during a rally celebrating the Los Angeles Angels' American League West Division Championship baseball title in Anaheim, Calif.
Matt Sayles / AP
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AP
In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photo, singer Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth performs with the band during a rally celebrating the Los Angeles Angels' American League West Division Championship baseball title in Anaheim, Calif.

Harwell left Smash Mouth in 2021, shortly after a performance in Upstate New York, where he was slurring his words and seem disoriented.

Harwell issued a statement saying he needed to work on longstanding physical and mental health issues. The singer struggled with alcohol abuse for years. His manager, Hayes, said Harwell lived a "100% full-throttle life."

Hayes called Harwell a "true American original," and said he should be remembered for his unwavering focus and determination to reach the heights of pop stardom. The fact that Harwell did that with limited musical experience, he said, makes his achievements all the more remarkable.

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Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.

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