Carson Daly is remembering his friend Steve Harwell, the co-founder and former lead singer of the rock band Smash Mouth, who died Monday at age 56.
The “Today Show” anchor and former MTV VJ rose to fame during the same era that Harwell’s Smash Mouth did, and Daly took time to reflect on how often their paths crossed early in their careers.
Daly posted a tribute to Harwell on Monday on Instagram, writing he went “down the rabbit hole of 90s music memories” after hearing the news of Harwell’s death.
“I met Steve & the band in 1995 when I was a DJ on KOME in San Jose, CA where they’re from. The band was new, unsigned & only had an EP out,” Daly wrote, adding “In an attempt to help support our local band (and new party pals) we played their song ‘Nervous In The Alley’ 1 billion times.”
In 1996, Daly wrote, he landed his “dream job” at Los Angeles FM radio station KROQ-LA, where he continued to support his friend’s band. Harwell and the band gave him a ride to LA from the Bay Area, he added.
After introducing Smash Mouth’s 1997 track “Walking on the Sun” during a music meeting at the station, Daly wrote that his colleagues “loved it.” It went on to be a “huge hit” on the station, something Daly described as “unheard of” for an unsigned band.
Harwell himself went to great lengths to boost the band’s early fame – personally taking their 1999 hit record “Astro Lounge” to radio stations across the country to get it played across the airwaves.
“We never do anything traditional,” Harwell said in 1999. “We never go through the front door. It’s always the back door, or an open window or something, to get our stuff played.”
Daly went on to television success on MTV’s “Total Request Live” in 1998, while Smash Mouth skyrocketed in popularity after releasing “Astro Lounge.” The album included hit tracks such as “All Star” and “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby.”
“Many years went by & I was aware of Steve’s darker days,” Daly wrote. “Life threw him some nasty curveballs including the tragic passing of his son in 2001 & addiction issues. I always rooted & prayed for him.”
Harwell died at his home in Boise, Idaho, with family and friends by his side, his manager Robert Hayes told CNN. No cause of death was shared, but Harwell had been receiving hospice care in recent days.
“He brought joy to millions with his music and his legacy will thankfully live on,” Daly wrote at the end of his tribute.