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Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell retires after erratic New York gig

Steve Harwell, lead singer of pop-rock band Smash Mouth, reportedly announced his retirement from the group this week, days after video of an erratic stage performance went viral.

The group, which enjoyed a number of hits in the late 1990s and early 2000s, performed in a beer and wine festival in Bethel, New York on Saturday, but Harwell gave a bizarre performance. A video on TikTok seems to show it cursing the crowd, scrambling their speech and at one point making a gesture that resembles a Nazi salute, as USA Today notes. (Representatives for the singer said the video was “taken out of context.”)

Harwell obviously announced his retirement from TMZ, which reported the news on Tuesday. He said it was because the health issues had become too important for him.

“Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a rock star performing in front of sold-out arenas and I was lucky enough to live that dream,” Harwell said, according to TMZ. “To my band mates, it has been an honor to play with you all these years and I can’t think of anyone else that I would have preferred to go on this wild trip with.”

Harwell was diagnosed eight years ago with cardiomyopathy and has since experienced other medical issues, including heart failure and acute Wernicke’s encephalopathy, affecting his speech and memory, according to Variety.

A Smash Mouth rep 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 had a long time been “a strong supporter of all minority groups, and he regrets his actions.”

“This TikTok video is not an exact representation of the man Steve is, ”the spokesperson said.

“I’ve tried so hard to get over my physical and mental health issues and play in front of you one last time, but I just couldn’t,” Harwell said, according to TMZ.

As of Tuesday evening, the group had not announced Harwell’s departure on their social media, but Harwell said he “cannot wait and see what Smash Mouth does next ”and“ can’t wait to have me among the new fans of the group ”.

HuffPost contacted representatives for the group, but did not immediately receive a response.

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