©2018 by Steve Walsh / Webmaster: Laurie Larson

Fusing the complexity of British prog rock with an American heartland sound representative of their name, Kansas were among the most popular bands of the late '70s, with many of their hits becoming staples of AOR radio playlists. Formed in Topeka in 1970, the founding members of the group -- guitarist Kerry Livgren, bassist Dave Hope, and drummer Phil Ehart -- first played together while in high school; with the 1971 addition of classically trained violinist Robbie Steinhardt, they changed their name to White Clover, reverting back to the Kansas moniker for good upon the 1972 arrivals of vocalist/keyboardist Steve Walsh and guitarist Richard Williams. The group spent the early part of the decade touring relentlessly and struggling for recognition; initially, their mix of boogie and prog rock baffled club patrons, but in due time they established a strong enough following to win a record deal with the Kirshner label. Kansas' self-titled debut LP appeared in 1974; while only mildly successful, the group toured behind it tirelessly, and their fan base grew to the point that their third effort, 1975's Masque, sold a quarter of a million copies. In 1976, Leftoverture truly catapulted Kansas to stardom. On the strength of the smash hit "Carry on Wayward Son," the album reached the Top Five and sold over three million copies. Released in 1977, "Point of Know Return" was even more successful, spawning the monster hit "Dust in the Wind." While the 1978 live LP Two for the Show struggled to break the Top 40, its studio follow-up, Monolith, the band's first self-produced effort, reached the Top Ten. That same year, Walsh issued a solo record, Schemer-Dreamer. In the wake of 1980's Audio-Visions, Kansas began to splinter; Walsh soon quit to form a new band, Streets.  In 1986, however, Kansas re-formed around Ehart, Williams, and Walsh; adding the famed guitarist Steve Morse as well as bassist Billy Greer, the refurbished band debuted with the album Power, scoring a Top 20 hit with "All I Wanted." When the follow-up, 1988's "In the Spirit of Things", failed to hit, seven years passed before the release of their next effort, "Freaks of Nature". The London Symphony-assisted "Always Never the Same" followed in 1998, and in 2000 Kansas issued "Somewhere to Elsewhere", their 14th studio album, which saw the return of founder singer/songwriter Kerry Livgren. The next decade found Kansas continuing to tour heavily and release compilations and live albums, culminating in their 2014 induction into the Kansas Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, which coincided with the group's 40th anniversary. Miracles Out of Nowhere, a DVD/CD career retrospective, followed in early 2015. ~ Jason Ankeny

 
Live at the Whisky