Smash Mouth Frontman Steve Harwell has announced his retirement from the Bay Area band following a strange performance at the Big Sip festival in Bethel, New York last Saturday that went viral in a subsequent TikTok video.
“As of today, Steve will be retiring from Smash Mouth to focus on his physical and mental health,” a publicist for the band told SFGATE. “Steve has been dealing with long term medical issues over the last 8 years and during his last performance he suffered numerous symptoms directly linked with his current medical situation”.
The video, taken by a patron of the festival, shows Harwell slurring his speech and forgetting lyrics during the band’s performance, dropping a beer can into the crowd, raising two middle fingers into the air, and at one point displaying what appears to be a Nazi salute.
“I’ll f—ing kill your whole family, I swear to God,” Harwell appears to yell at one member of the audience later in the set.
The show also appeared to experience a variety of technical difficulties, including audio feedback.
A statement from Harwell’s team explained he was leaving the band due to “nonstop serious medical setbacks including heart failure as well as acute Wernickes Encephalopathy, a condition that has greatly impacted his motor functions including speech and impaired memory,” once again attributing his behavior onstage to the diagnosis. Harwell has also struggled with several types of addiction over the years, the statement added.
Smash Mouth formed in San Jose in 1994 and achieved widespread acclaim and meme notoriety for songs like “All Star” and “I’m a Believer,” both of which were on the soundtrack for the 2001 animated film “Shrek.” The band plans to find a replacement for Harwell and will continue to perform with its current lineup, including guitarist Mike Krompass, drummer Randy Cooke and bassist Paul De Lisle.
Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a Rockstar performing in front of sold-out arenas and have been so fortunate to live out that dream,” Harwell said in a statement.
“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. 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. I cannot wait to see what Smash Mouth accomplishes next and am looking forward to counting myself as one of the band’s newest fans”.
Smash Mouth’s next concert in the Bay Area will be at the Alameda County Fairgrounds on Oct. 27.