Throwback Video of the Week!

Throwback Video of the Week!

Throwback Video of the Week!

Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell (1967-2023) sings "I'm A Believer" during the 28th Annual Peoples Choice Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center January 13, 2002 in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Smash Mouth lost one of its founding members and original lead singer this month. With the untimely death of Steve Harwell on September 4, 2023, this edition of the Throwback Threesome takes a look back at the band he fronted from 1994 to 2021.

In 1990, Northern California native Steve Harwell met Kevin Coleman. At the time, Harwell was in a rap group called F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech). Coleman knew guitarist Greg Camp and bassist Paul De Lisle, who had both played in a local punk band, and introduced them musicians to Harwell. They began rehearsing together, along with Coleman as drummer. By 1994, they had developed into a band, and named themselves Smashmouth, after the football term.

California Dream Come True

The band got a big leg up when a San Jose radio station played a demo of their song “Nervous in the Alley.” Smashmouth was soon signed by Interscope Records, and the group’s debut album, Fush Yu Mang, was released in 1997. By this time they had added keyboardist Michael Klooster to their roster. The band also tweaked their name from Smashmouth to Smash Mouth. The album took off thanks to the success of the band’s first major single, “Walkin’ on the Sun.”

When Smash Mouth recorded their next album, Astro Lounge, the band had shifted away from their ska roots and adopted a more pop radio-friendly sound. Released in 1999, their sophomore effort spawned the singles “All Star” and “Then the Morning Comes.” The album peaked at number 6 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart, making it the band’s all-time best seller.

Smash Mouth Goes Hollywood

Throughout their career, Smash Mouth kept popping up in movies. Their cover of War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends” was featured in the 1998 Kevin Bacon film Wild Things. According to Songfacts, “All Star” was featured on several soundtracks, including Mystery Men, Shrek, Rat Race, Digimon: The Movie, and Inspector Gadget. Their cover of the Monkees’ 1966 single, “I’m a Believer,” was also on the Shrek soundtrack. That would be the last time Smash Mouth would crack the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

Smash Mouth went through many lineup changes in the 2000s. Steve Harwell’s well-documented struggle with alcoholism led to various other ailments and unfortunate on-stage incidents. He eventually stepped down as lead singer in October 2021. Three months later, the band recruited new lead singer Zach Goode. Harwell’s health continued to decline until he died as a result final stage chronic liver failure at his home in Boise, Idaho. He was 56.

Throwback Threesome: Smash Mouth

  • Walkin' On The Sun (1997)

    Released as Smash Mouth’s debut single in 1997, “Walkin’ on the Sun” reached number 1 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Top 40 and Alternative Airplay charts, as well as number 2 on the Billboard Radio Songs and Mainstream Top 40 charts. It was also a top ten hit in Canada, Australia, Italy, Spain, and Iceland. Nice way to start a career.

  • All Star (1999)

    With a more radio-friendly sound, Smash Mouth released “All Star” as the first single from their 1999 album, Astro Lounge. Written as a confidence-building anthem for outcasts, the song resonated with people all over the world. “All Star” topped both the U.S. Billboard Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 radio airplay charts. It has also been heard in numerous films, including Mystery Men. The music video opens with a vignette featuring some of the film’s main characters.

  • I'm a Believer (2001)

    Written by Neil Diamond, “I’m a Believer” was originally recorded by the made-for-TV band, The Monkees. It was the last number-one hit of 1966 and the biggest-selling single for all of 1967. Smash Mouth presented the song to a whole new generation when they covered it for the animated movie Shrek in 2001. They also included it on their self-titled third album that same year.

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