The band, which had a number of hits in the late ’90s and early ’00s, played at a beer and wine festival in Bethel, New York, on Saturday, but Harwell gave a bizarre performance. A video on TikTok appears to show him cursing at the crowd, slurring his speech and at one point making a gesture that resembles a Nazi salute, as USA Today notes. (The singer’s representatives said the video has “been taken out of context.”)
Harwell evidently announced his retirement to TMZ, which reported the news Tuesday. He said it was because health challenges have become too much for him.
“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 said, according to TMZ. “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.”
Harwell was diagnosed eight years ago with cardiomyopathy, and has since experienced other medical issues including heart failure and acute Wernicke encephalopathy, affecting his speech and memory, according to Variety.
A representative for Smash Mouth blamed Harwell’s medical issues for his recent erratic performance, excerpts of which can be seen below.
In a statement to USA Today, a spokesperson for Harwell said the singer has long been “a staunch and outspoken supporter of all minority groups, and he regrets his actions.”
“This TikTok video is not an accurate representation of the man Steve is,” the spokesperson said.
“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 said, according to TMZ.
As of Tuesday evening, the band had not announced Harwell’s departure on its social media, but Harwell said he “cannot wait to see what Smash Mouth accomplishes next” and is “looking forward to counting myself as one of the band’s newest fans.”
HuffPost reached out to representatives for the band, but did not immediately receive a response.