The release said that since his initial diagnosis Harwell has suffered from “nonstop serious medical setbacks including heart failure as well as acute Wernicke Encephalopathy,” described as a condition that has greatly impacted his motor functions, including speech and impaired memory. WEbMD describes the symptoms of Wernicke Encephalopathy as including confusion and loss of muscle coordination due to a lack of vitamin B1, which helps your brain turn sugar into energy.
“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. 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,” wrote Harwell in a statement, which said that despite his best efforts to work through his ailments he can no longer perform.
“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.”
A source familiar with the situation said that Harwell has suffered from “several types” of unspecified addictions in past that led to medical and mental health issues and last weekend’s performance made it clear that he could no longer perform due to those symptoms. It referred to a widely distributed video taken by a fan at the New York show, that appeared to show Harwell not knowing where he was and forgetting lyrics, which the source attributed to “one of his episodes.”
Though Harwell is stepping down, the release said that the band — best known for their ska-tinged pop punk hits “Walkin’ on the Sun,” “All Star” and covers of songs by the Monkees (“I’m a Believer”) and War (“Why Can’t We Be Friends”) — will continue to perform and that they have his “full support” in finding a replacement. Earlier this month, TMZ reported that Harwell had taken a temporary leave of absence from the band to deal with the same heart issues that landed him in the hospital in 2017, with an unidentified vocalist taking his place for a run of shows.
Smash Mouth has released seven albums to date, beginning with their 1997 debut Fush Yu Mang through 2012’s Magic.