British progressive rock with an American heartland sound
representative of their name, Kansas was among the most
popular bands of the late 1970s. 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 1971's addition of
classically trained violinist Robby Steinhardt, they changed
their name to White Clover, but, reverted back to the
Kansas name for good upon the 1972 arrivals of vocalist/keyboardist
Steve Walsh and guitarist Richard Williams.
group spent the early part of the decade touring relentlessly
and struggling for recognition. Initially, their mix of
boogie and progressive rock baffled club patrons, but
in due time they established a strong enough following
to win a record deal with the Kirshner label.
self-titled debut LP appeared in 1974. Although 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.
1977, '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.
'Point of Know Return', was even more successful,
spawning the monster hit "Dust in the Wind."
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.
the wake of 1980's Audio-Visions, Kansas began to splinter;
both Hope and Livgren became born-again Christians, the
latter issuing the solo venture, Seeds of Change,
and their newfound spirituality caused divisions within
the band's ranks. Walsh soon quit to form a new band,
Streets; the remaining members forged on without him,
tapping vocalist John Elefante as his replacement.
first Kansas LP without Walsh, 1982's 'Vinyl Confessions',
launched the hit "Play the Game Tonight," but after
only one more album, 1983's, 'Drastic Measures',
they disbanded. 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 the Things', failed to
hit, seven years passed before the release of their next
effort, 'Freaks of Nature'. 'Always Never the
Same', followed in 1998.
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