In the late
1960s the singer Lynn Meredith, the keyboardists Don Montre
and Dan Wright and the guitarist and keyboardist Kerry Livgren
performed in the band The Reasons Why which evolved into Saratoga.
In 1970 the
group merged with White Clover which was another band from their home city
of Topeka, Kansas and the band Kansas was formed with a membership that
included the members from The Reasons Why along with the bassist Dave Hope
and the drummer Phil Ehart, also from Topeka,
Steve Walsh from St. Joseph, MO, the singer Joel Warne and the saxophonist
Larry Baker. However the
following year a few of the members decided to leave the band and reform
White Clover (aka Kansas I) in 1971.
With the newly
reformed White Clover getting back into the circuit Phil Ehart returned to them with his successor being Zeke
Lowe. The saxophonist Laurence
Baker also went back to be replaced by John Bolton and the bassist David
Hope also returned to be succeeded by Rod Mikinski
and gained the nickname of Kansas II.
In 1972 Phil Ehart went to England to find musicians and put toger yet another formation of White Clover. Steve Walsh joined them, as did the guitarist
Rich Williams and the string player Robby Steinhardt. The following year Kerry Livgren joined them and deciding to just use the name Kansas for the band they got their first
recording contract from Don Kirschner.
In 1973 they
began recording and which ended up as the self-titled Kansas which was released as their debut album
in 1974. The embarked on a
promotional tour of the album and followed that with the release of their second
album Song for America and then
their third Masque which saw them
with almost a cult fanbase.
In 1976 their Leftoverture
appeared on the shelves and the next year produced their popular hit song “Carry
on Wayward Son” which reached gold status. Later in 1977 they issued Point of
Know Return and once again they saw themselves hitting the charts with a
further gold certified song “Dust in the Wind” as well as “Point
of No Return”.
In 1978 their live
double album Two for the Show was
released that was a compilation of material from several sell-out concerts
they’d made at large venues over the previous couple of years. Also that year they were appointed
the Deputy Ambassadors of Goodwill by UNICEF. The following year in 1979 they released
the studio album Monolith which
achieved platinum certification and the resultant Top 40 hit “People
of the South Wind”.
Going into the
1980s they released Audio-Visions
with “Hold On” making the Top 40 and around that time Kerry Livgren and David Hope became born-again Christians. In 1981 Steve Walsh decided to move
on and formed Streets and was replaced in Kansas in 1982 by another born-again Christian,
In 1982 they
released Vinyl Confessions with
songs that showed a new Christian sound. This album brought them a return to
the Top 20 with the single “Play the Game Tonight” as well as gaining
further popularity with a new audience. The following years Drastic Measures appeared without
the strings of Rob Steinhardt who had left the group. The released single “Fight
Fire with Fire” made it to No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock chart but did
not enter the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40.
In 1983 the
band were experiencing some problems and so after a concert on New Year’s
Eve, when Kerry Livgren and David Hope they had
decided to give their last performance, the two members left to form the
members of Kansas attempted to continue in 1984 and released The Best of Kansas and the single “Perfect Lover”. Their attempt essentially failed
though and soon the group went their own separate ways with John Elefante later making his name as a Christian music
Just a year
later though, Steve Walsh decided to reform Kansas again, this time with Billy Greer on
bass and Steve Morse on guitar. There was no sign of Kerry Livgren, David Hope or Rob Steinhardt. In 1986 they issued Power and they
saw the Top 40 Singles chart for the last time when its song “All I
Wanted” made it to No.19.
They carried on to release In the Spirit of Things in 1988 and after
the promotional tour ended in 1989 they saw the loss of Steve Morse.
In 1990 the
original band members were gathered together for a tour of Europe.
David Hope performed in this tour but opted to leave afterwards
where as Kerry Livgren made the decision to stay
on until the following year. In
1991 they got their violinist back in the shape of David Ragsdale which
gave the band the ability to make their songs sound more like they had when
they were originally performed.
Steve Morse went back for a brief time in 1991 when he took the
place of Kerry Livgren who had decided on
leaving. When Steve Morse left
again his position was taken up by David Ragsdale who was multi-tasking
between guitar and violin. The
group, as it existed now, stayed together and released the 1992 Live at the Whisky and the 1995 Freaks of Nature.
In 1996 the
band was honoured by being inducted into Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame. The next year Rob Steinhardt returned
and replaced David Ragsdale and in 1998 they released Always Never the Same with the London Symphony Orchestra led by
Going into the
new millennium all the original members of the band got together and issued
their 2000 Somewhere to Elsewhere
as well as opening for Yes. In
2001 the RIAA certified Leftoverture five times platinum.
performed in their old guise of Kansas II in 2002 and releasing an album using
the band name Proto-Kaw. This was followed by their Before Became After in 2004 and their
2006 The Wait in Glory. In 2005 RIAA certified “Dust
in the Wind” as gold through digital downloads.
In 2006 Rob
Steinhardt took the decision to leave the band again before the group
embarked on tour, to have David Ragsdale return to take his place. Two years later four members of the
current line-up decided to put together the group Native Window and their eponymous
debut album went on sale in 2009.
That same year Kansas
worked with Kerry Livgren and Steve Morse again
as well as the conductor Larry Baird and the Washburn University Symphony Orchestra,
this time in Topeka, and the result was a CD and DVD that reached No. 5 on
the Billboard Music Video Chart.
the second decade of the 2000s the band toured with Foreigner and Styx in the United We Rock Tour in 2010. Later that year they ventured out on
a tour where they performed at colleges in a bid to raise money for their
music programs and were accompanied by their respective symphony orchestras. The final concert was performed at Kansas State University in celebration of Kansas being made an official state 150 years
The band currently
continues to make live performances and tour.
influence on countless artists over the years has lead to several cover
versions of their songs being made as well as them being used for TV and
movie soundtracks and video grames. Some of the artists that have
performed their material include Sarah Brightman,
Critical Mass, Dream Theater, Foo
Fighters, Yngwie Malmsteen,
The Oak Ridge Boys, The Scorpions, Stryper and Vanden Plas among many