Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell retires after footage of chaotic show goes viral

Steve Harwell onstage in 2016
(Image credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell is to retire from the band to concentrate on his health.

The news comes after video emerged of a performance by the band at the Big Sip beer and wine festival at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY. Edited footage shot at the performance shows an unsteady Harwell threatening a fan, saying, “I'll fuckin' kill your whole family, I swear to God." 

Elsewhere in the footage, which went viral on TikTok, Harwell appears to throw a Nazi salute, then later shouts, “fuck you, bitches” at the audience while flicking the Vs. At the time of writing the video has been watched 1.7 million times. 

"I know the ethics of this aren't great," say TikTok user doesthisfeelgood in the clip, "but I did just see Smash Mouth perform live at a local beer and wine festival. When I say this was the most chaotic show I have ever seen in my life... I have no words." 


♬ original sound - Haley

In a statement given to the New York Post, representatives of the band say, "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. As of today, Steve will be retiring from Smash Mouth to focus on his physical and mental health."

Harwell was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a condition associated with heart failure, in 2015. He also suffers from acute Wernicke encephalopathy, which can impact the sufferer's balance and movement, cause confusion, and damage eyesight.

"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, Harwell told TMZ. "To my bandmates, it’s been an honour 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 cannot wait to see what Smash Mouth accomplishes next and am looking forward to counting myself as one of the band’s newest fans."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.