Saturday, April 14, 2007


Kansas is an American progressive rock band who became a major arena rock group in the late 1970s. The band's biggest hit singles are "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind." Kansas has remained a classic rock radio staple and a popular touring act throughout both North America and Europe.

1970-1973: Early years
Lynn Meredith, Don Montre, Dan Wright and Kerry Livgren were together in 1969 in a band called The Reasons Why. They changed their name to Saratoga and started playing Livgren's original material with Scott Kessler on bass and Zeke Lowe on drums. They soon changed their name again to Kansas and took on some new band members in 1970.

Dave Hope (bass), Phil Ehart (drums), and Kerry Livgren (guitar, and later keyboards) formed the progressive rock group named Kansas in 1970 in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas, along with vocalist Lynn Meredith from Manhattan, Kansas, keyboardist Don Montre, keyboardist Dan Wright, and saxophonist Larry Baker. This was the first lineup of Kansas and lasted until 1971, when Ehart left for England. Fans refer to this lineup as Kansas I.

Ehart was replaced by Zeke Lowe and later Brad Schulz. Hope was replaced by Rod Mikinski on bass, and Baker was replaced by John Bolton on saxophone and flute. Fans refer to this lineup as Kansas II.

In the meantime, Ehart and Hope formed a group called White Clover with Robby Steinhardt (violin, vocals), Steve Walsh (keyboards, vocals) and Rich Williams (guitar). They changed their name to Kansas when they recruited Livgren from the second Kansas group, which then folded. A demo, cut at a small studio in Liberal, KS for a $300 fee wound up in the hands of a contact on the east coast, and good news came about the tape while the band was gigging at "The Opera House" in Ellinwood, KS in 1973.[1] This old 2-story converted vaudville theatre was a favorite and welcome club for the progressive original music of both White Clover, and the Kansas that signed with Kirshner Records.

Jeff Glixman from "Cocky Fox" went on to produce the first seven Kansas albums. Wally Gold came to audition Kansas at the Opera House, looking for a "house band" for the newly created TV show "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" and competed with "Wolfman Jack's Midnight Special", all prior to MTV. Kansas III received a record deal with Don Kirshner's eponymous label, and they recorded the first Kansas album shortly thereafter.

1974-1979: Rise to national prominence
A somewhat successful debut album, Kansas, was released in 1974, and showcased Kansas' signature mix of guitars, keyboards, vocals, and Steinhardt's ever-present violin submerging American-style boogie-rock into complex, even symphonic, arrangements and changing time signatures. Their sound bore the marks of late 1960s, early 1970s progressive rock, especially Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Relentless promotion by Kirshner and touring behind the debut album and its two follow ups, Song for America and Masque, slowly brought Kansas' name to households across America.

On the strength of the major hit single "Carry On Wayward Son" the band's fourth album, Leftoverture, released in 1976, on which Steinhardt added viola and Walsh added vibraphone to their work, was a smash hit and a constant presence on the burgeoning AOR radio format. The follow up Point of Know Return, released in 1977, featured the title track and "Dust in the Wind", both hit singles, and was an even bigger success than Leftoverture. Both albums had unique album covers, with Leftoverture featuring a DaVinci-like old man on the cover, and Point of Know Return having an image of the age old idea of a sailing ship teetering over the edge of the world on its cover. Both albums have sold over 4 million copies in the USA alone.

During this period, Kansas developed into one of the exemplars of what came to be known as arena rock, becoming a major headlining act for several years, and selling out the largest venues available to rock bands at the time (e.g. New York City's Madison Square Garden). The band documented this era with its first live recording, 1978's double live album Two For The Show, a snapshot of various performances from the 1977 and 1978 tours supporting Point Of Know Return.

Kansas decided to produce their follow-up to Point Of Know Return themselves. The 1979 album Monolith featured lyrics influenced by The Urantia Book and Native American themes. "Kansas" itself is a toponym derived from the Kansa tribe, whose name is widely believed to mean "People of the South Wind."[2] The starkly expressive album cover depicts Plains Indians in traditional dress and space suit helmets living in a settlement under the ruins of highway overpasses. While the album produced a top 40 single in "People of the South Wind", both the band and the label were disappointed in Monolith's failure to produce sales or radio airplay close to its two predecessors. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Jason Ankeny @ Allmusic
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; though typically dismissed by critics, many of the group's hits remain staples of AOR radio play lists to this day. 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. 1977's 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; 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. The 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 Things, failed to hit, seven years passed before the release of their next effort, Freaks of Nature. Always Never the Same followed in 1998. Seeing the return of founder singer/songwriter Kerry Livgren, Somewhere to Elsewhere was released in 2000. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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