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The roots of Kansas can be traced back to Topeka, Kansas, in 1970.
Kansas is an American rock band that emerged in the early 1970s, known for their unique blend of progressive rock and classic rock elements, characterized by intricate compositions, impressive instrumental prowess, and thought-provoking lyrics. Here's a detailed history of the band:
Formation and Early Years (1970-1973):
- The roots of Kansas can be traced back to Topeka, Kansas, in 1970 when Phil Ehart (drums) and Robby Steinhardt (violin, vocals) joined forces with Kerry Livgren (guitar, keyboards), Dave Hope (bass), and Don Montre (vocals) to form the band White Clover.
- In 1971, White Clover changed their name to Kansas, inspired by their home state.
- Their self-titled debut album, "Kansas," was released in 1974 and included songs like "Can I Tell You" and "Lonely Wind." It showcased the band's early progressive rock sound.
Breakthrough and Commercial Success (1974-1977):
- Kansas' second album, "Song for America" (1975), marked their transition into progressive rock. The title track and "Lamplight Symphony" displayed their growing musical complexity.
- The breakthrough came with the release of their third album, "Leftoverture" (1976), featuring the hit single "Carry On Wayward Son." The album reached multi-platinum status, and the song remains a classic of rock radio.
- "Point of Know Return" (1977) followed, producing another hit single, "Dust in the Wind." The song became an iconic ballad, and the album went platinum.
Mid-Career and Lineup Changes (Late 1970s - Early 1980s):
- In 1978, Steve Walsh's departure led to the recruitment of John Elefante as the new lead vocalist and keyboardist.
- Albums like "Monolith" (1979) and "Audio-Visions" (1980) continued their progressive rock sound but failed to achieve the same level of success.
- Elefante's tenure with the band was relatively short-lived, as Steve Morse replaced him as the band's guitarist in 1982.
A New Direction and More Lineup Changes (Mid-1980s - 1990s):
- The early 1980s marked a significant change in Kansas' sound, as they moved towards a more mainstream rock style with the albums "Vinyl Confessions" (1982) and "Drastic Measures" (1983).
- In 1986, Steve Walsh returned, marking a reunion of the original lineup.
- Despite these changes, the band faced a decline in commercial success during this period.
Later Years and Continued Performances (1990s - 2000s):
- Kansas continued to tour and release new material in the 1990s and 2000s. Some of the notable albums during this period include "Freaks of Nature" (1995) and "Somewhere to Elsewhere" (2000).
- The band's live performances remained popular, with a dedicated fan base.
Legacy and Ongoing Career (2010s - Present):
- Kansas celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2013 and released "The Prelude Implicit" in 2016, their first studio album in over a decade.
- The band's classic lineup, featuring Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart, Rich Williams, and Billy Greer, continued to tour and record.
Kansas has maintained a loyal fan base and remains a fixture in the world of classic and progressive rock. Their music has influenced numerous artists and continues to be celebrated for its intricate compositions and memorable hits. The band's ability to blend rock with symphonic and progressive elements has earned them a unique place in the history of rock music.