Kansas Violinist & Vocalist Robby Steinhardt Dead At 71
Robby Steinhardt, the violinist and co-lead vocalist for Kansas, has died at 71. His wife Cindy confirmed the news on Facebook, writing that Steinhardt was admitted to the hospital in May with acute pancreatitis. After being placed on life support, he made a recovery and was being prepared to be released into rehab last week but suffered from sepsis and passed away.
Steinhardt was born in Chicago and was adopted when he was four days old. His adoptive parents moved him to Lawrence, Kansas, where he grew up playing classical violin. Kansas was formed in 1970 and Steinhardt joined the lineup in 1971, when they briefly changed their name to White Clover. By the time Steve Walsh and Richard Williams were added to the lineup the following year, they were going by Kansas once again.
Steinhardt played the band’s distinctive string section and he also shared vocal duties with Walsh. Kansas released their self-titled debut album in 1974 and their frequent touring meant they started to build a cult following. They put out two albums in 1975, Song For America and Masque, and in 1976 they had their first crossover hit in “Carry On Wayward Son” from Leftoverture. 1977’s Point Of Know Return spawned another huge single with “Dust In The Wind.”
Steinhardt left the band in 1982 as they started to splinter and led his own group, Steinhardt Moon, for a time. He rejoined Kansas on the touring circuit in 1997 and stayed with them until he retired in 2013.
“We are beyond devastated as our lives were about to start a new adventure,” Steinhardt’s wife Cindy wrote in a Facebook post. “Robby just recorded his first solo album with the talented music producer Michael Franklin at Solar Studios. A tour to start in August, Robby was so looking forward to being back on stage doing what he loved.”