Smash Mouth's Steve Harwell to Retire: I 'Tried So Hard to Power Through' Health Issues

"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," he told PEOPLE

Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth
Photo: Mychal Watts/NFL for ON 3 PRODUCTIONS via Getty

Steve Harwell is retiring from performing with Smash Mouth.

Harwell, the group's lead singer, revealed that he's stepping away from the stage due to his mental and physical health conditions shortly after he was recorded slurring his words and yelling at the audience during a festival in upstate New York.

"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," the 54-year-old told PEOPLE 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," he added. "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."

Harwell's decision comes just a day after a TikToker shared clips from Smash Mouth's performance over the weekend in New York and described it as the "most chaotic show I've ever been to" as she recorded Harwell dozing off, along with flipping off the audience and yelling profanity.

"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," Harwell's rep told PEOPLE. "As of today, Steve will be retiring from Smash Mouth to focus on his physical and mental health."

"Despite Steve's best efforts to work through these ailments, he is heartbroken to share that it has become impossible for him to continue doing what he loves most, performing in front of the band's millions of fans around the world," his rep said.

A source close to the singer explained to PEOPLE that he has "suffered profusely" with addiction over the years, which have led to some of his medical and mental health issues.

"A video was taken by a concert attendee of Steve's incredibly sad set in New York in which he forgot where he was, his own lyrics and had limited understanding of his environment due to one of his episodes," a source familiar with the situation said. "This unfortunate recording has now been taken out of context and his ailments used against him to paint him as someone who he isn't."

"Throughout his career, Steve has been a staunch and outspoken supporter of all minority groups and he regrets his actions, but this TikTok video is not an accurate representation of the man Steve is," the source added. "Steve had every intention of successfully continuing in the band but will be retiring to concentrate on his serious health issues."

Smash Mouth
Michael Tullberg/Getty

The source explained that Harwell went through an "episode" during the performance. He was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2013, which led to other issues including Wernicke's Encephalopathy, a brain condition that has impacted the singer's motor functions, including speech and impaired memory.

Harwell added: "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."

"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," he said.

Both "All Star" and "I'm a Believer" appeared in the soundtracks of the Shrek franchise, becoming fan-favorite tracks. They've also released songs "Walkin' on the Sun," "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" and "Why Can't We Be Friends."

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