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 Post subject: History
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:20 pm 
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Best known by casual fans for "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust In The Wind," Kansas are one of the most successful and enduring American Prog Rock bands ever. The band was formed in Topeka in 1970, led by guitarist/songwriter Kerry Livgren. The original Kansas lineup merged with another local band, White Clover, to form the best known lineup.

Steve Walsh - vocals, keyboards
Kerry Livgren - guitars, keyboards
Robby Steinhardt - violin, vocals
Richard Williams - guitars
Dave Hope - bass
Phil Ehart - drums

The band was discovered by rock impressario Don Kirshner (best known for his late night TV Rock Concerts, one of very few music TV shows for less commercial acts to gain exposure in the pre-MTV age) and signed to his label, which was distributed by CBS Records.

The band's first three albums sold slowly but steadily as they toured all over the U.S. With CBS pressuring for a hit, 1976's
Leftoverture brought the band their #11 hit "Carry On Wayward Son," which still gets plenty of radio play today. The song is also featured on the first Guitar Hero video game.

Next came Point Of Know Return, which gave the band two hits; the title song (#27) and the immortal "Dust In The Wind" which peaked at #6. The next logical step was the inevitable 70s double live album, in Kansas' case, Two For The Show.

The next album, Monolithwas a much darker album and though it peaked at #10 in the charts, fell short of platinum status; although it did produce a #23 hit with "People Of The South Wind" -- which, incidentally is what the word "Kansas" means, it is dervived from the Kansa Indian tribe.

The same fate befell 1980's Audio Visions. It was during the writing of this album that principal songwriter Livgren became a born again Christian (after years of exploring other religions and philosophies); and this would affect the future of the original lineup. Vocalist Steve Walsh left the band during the making of its next album, apparently over the song "Crossfire" which contains very explicit references to Jesus Christ ("the one who Rose.") (Note: curiously the band has performed this song in recent years.)

Walsh and Livgren also released solo albums in 1980, neither of which were successful, although Livgren's curiously featured then-current Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio on two songs.

Walsh's replacement was John Elefante, who along with his brother Dino had amassed quite a songwriting repertoire. Elefante's voice bore a striking resemblance to Walsh, and he helped the band complete 1982's Vinyl Confessions.

The "new" Kansas seemed to be off to a good start. The lead single from the album, "Play The Game Tonight" went all the way to #17 on the Billboard charts, the third-highest charting pop single the band ever had. The band also released a home video filmed in Omaha, The Best Of Kansas Live, which showed how well Elefante sounded doing the older songs, even though he lacked Walsh's charisma. However, the album did not reach gold status, even to this day.

1983 saw departure of violinist/vocalist Steinhardt, making Drastic Measuresa very non-Kansas sounding album. Livgren was at the end of his road with the band, evidenced with his contributing only three of the album's nine songs (the rest were Elefante/Elefante compositions.) The lead track "Fight Fire With Fire" only peaked at #58 on the pop charts, but went to #3 on the Mainstream Rock Chart, making it the highest-charting Kansas single on any chart. After the tour, Livgren and Hope left to form the Christian rock band A.D., leaving Elefante, Williams, and Ehart to complete a new song, "Perfect Lover," for 1984's The Best Of Kansascollection. (It should be noted that the 1999 reissue deleted this song, making the original a collector's item.)

John Elefante would go on to be a very successful producer and recording artist in contemporary Christian rock.

Steve Walsh, in the meantime had formed a new band called Streets, featuring former City Boy guitarist Mike Slamer. They released two albums for Atlantic Records, and had a minor chart appearance with the song "If Love Should Go." After a curious side-gig playing keyboards for Cheap Trick, Walsh took part in a Kansas reformation along with founding members Richard Williams and Phil Ehart, Streets bassist Billy Greer, and Dixie Dregs/solo guitar hero Steve Morse. Morse had apparently met Ehart at a Robert Plant concert and talked about the possibility of joining Kansas.

The reformed group landed a deal with MCA Records and released the album Powerin late 1986. The first single was an Adult Contemporary type ballad, "All I Wanted," which gave the band a #19 hit; with a fairly popular video on MTV as well. That was where the success ended with their MCA days though. The next album, 1988's In The Spirit Of Thingshit the delete bins only short months after being released, despite the presence of Kiss/Alice Cooper/Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin.

According to Phil Ehart, 1990 was the year everything caved in for Kansas. They lost a major label deal, they lost their management, etc. Also during this period Steve Morse left the band. Keyboardist Greg Robert and guitarist David Ragsdale supplemented the group. Ragsdale also played violin, adding that crucial element to the classic Kansas sound (presumably the violin parts had been played by keyboards in those years.)

Ehart then decided to "temporarily" manage the group (which he still does to this day) and the band hit the road relentlessly. What they found was that there was still an audience for classic rock (particularly their brand of it) that was being ignored by MTV and popular radio. The band made an appearance at the legendary Whisky A-Go-Go in April 1992, and documented it with an album and video.

A two-disc Kansas box set was released in 1994, featuring a new Kerry Livgren-penned track "Wheels." Livgren also contributed "Cold Grey Morning" to the next studio album, 1995's [/b]Freaks Of Nature. After the tour, Ragsdale left the band and original violinist/vocalist Robby Steinhardt rejoined.

Kansas recorded
Always Never The Same with the London Symphony Orchestra; a mixture of classic tracks, plus three new songs and a cover of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." Also that year was the release of the King Biscuit Flower Hour concert from 1989.

The entire original Kansas lineup plus Greer united to release
Somewhere To Elsewhere in 2000. This is the last new Kansas album to date. The band released their first DVD, Device Voice Drum (get it?) in 2002.

Steinhardt left the band again and Ragsdale has since rejoined. Kansas still tours constantly. My two cents worth: Walsh's voice is in a little rougher shape due to years and much self-abuse, but a Kansas concert ticket is still worth your money. I saw them in 1994 and they rocked.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:22 pm 
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Thanks, Canuck. I'll see if I can get the forum admin to sticky this. And welcome by the way. :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:25 pm 
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TIM! Great to see ya in here!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:06 am 
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bildo wrote:
Thanks, Canuck. I'll see if I can get the forum admin to sticky this. And welcome by the way. :D


You wanted sticky... and you got sticky... :lol:

Your history is now the official history, Tim. 8)

Great info! There were a few tidbits in there I wasn't aware of... Good stuff!


:BB Steve

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~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


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"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:56 am 
Heavy Metal Cyber-Sleuth
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Favorite Band: The Electric Mayhem
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Jesus! What happened? Everything just got all sticky in here... :shock:

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Milk, milk, lemonade,
round the back fudge is made.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:53 pm 
The Lord of Destruction
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Favorite Band: Pinkmaiden Rainsabbath Zeppepriest
bildo wrote:
Jesus! What happened? Everything just got all sticky in here... :shock:


Sorry. I must have used too much. :oops:


:BB Steve

_________________
"I told you... that we could fly... 'Cause we all have wings... but some of us don't know why..."
~ Michael Hutchens (RIP)


"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..."
~ John Lennon (RIP)


"Don't get cute... Don't get funny now... It's later than you think..."
~ Greg Kihn


"As we celebrate mediocrity... all the boys upstairs wanna see...
How much you'll pay... for what you used to get for free..."

~ Tom Petty


Image

"I think you'd better ask yourself... before you criticize me...
Are you a victim of the System... or the Powers-That-Be?
If there was nothing to gain... would you do it for free?"

~ Sammy Hagar


"I was glad to come... I'll be sad to go... So while I'm here... I'll have me a real good time..."
~ Rod Stewart (The Faces)


"The earth can shake... The sky come down... The mountains all... fall to the ground...
But I will fear... none of these things... Shelter me, Lord... underneath your wings..."

~ Buddy Miller


"Rock hard... Ride free... All your life..."
~ Rob Halford


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:59 pm 
The Ultimate Metal Master
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Bildo just needs to learn to keep his pants on...

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 11:06 pm 
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Welcome...welcome...welcome!!! :wink:

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