Robby Steinhardt Released from Kansas

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On Monday, Steve Walsh posted a message to his website announcing that violin player and second lead vocalist Robby Steinhardt had been released from Kansas. See the 3-27 message on his Wait Until Tomorrow section. There's still been no official announcement from the band, but this seems to be a done deal. It happened right after some shows in Las Vegas, where David Ragsdale, Kansas' violin player from 1991-1997 has been playing since he left the band. The buzz seems to be that Ragsdale has returned. Several fans who know band members have dropped hints in that direction, saying that it's already settled.

I piece the following together from three sources: Steve Walsh's above-mentioned comments, several hints from those in the know, and interviews from Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart, and Kerry Livgren. Kerry Livgren is busy with Proto-Kaw and sending all his songs that way. Walsh's songs have been reserved for solo albums. He's said several times that he doesn't think he can write for Kansas anymore. Perhaps a teamup with Ragsdale would allow him to do that again. They haven't had a new album since 2000, and Livgren wrote every song on it. The last one before that had only three new Kansas songs on it, by Walsh, and that was 1998. Before that it was the 1995 album that Ragsdale was on. So this may well be about Kansas wanting to keep moving forward and recording new material. They do have an obligation to Magna Carta Records, with whom they have signed on for one additional album. Their live sets have also gotten somewhat stale in the last few years. I last saw them in 2001, and since then there were maybe 1 or 2 songs that they've done since that I really wanted to see them so I could see them perform those songs, but it's nothing like the variety in setlists from year to year that they had from 1991-2001. I might have seen them if they were in town, but I wasn't going out of my way to see them with the infrequent changes in setlists. I would go out of my way to see Kerry Livgren and Proto-Kaw.

So back to my suspected account. I'm guessing that they tossed around the idea of bringing someone else in to help write new material, and David's name came up. The issue of what they would do with two violinists came up, and somehow or other Robby ended up out of the band, either at his own initiative because the others insisted on having David part of this or at their initiative because they didn't want two violinists themselves. People will always jump to conclusions about how this happened, but I don't see any reason to assume anything. This does seem to be my best guess as to what's going on, though.

I have to say that I will miss Robby. I've met him twice, and he's a very nice guy. He always went out of his way to meet fans after shows, and he was probably the friendliest of all the members who have ever been in the band. He's got a great stage presence, and his frontman role will be missed. I'm not sure how they'll fill that role with the lineup as it is. There also isn't anyone else in the band who can sing his parts the way he does, and they'll be going down to two vocals instead of the nice three-part blend they've had since he returned. Unless they bring someone else in besides David, I think the vocal parts will be less interesting live. Above all, though, it's sad to see him go. I like him as a person and hope this won't mean things will be sour between him and the rest of the band. He was really close with some of them.

At the same time, it will be nice to see David Ragsdale again. I got to see the band once with him, and it was in a huge arena when they were opening for Styx. I didn't get to see very much. David is a consummate musician. He's an excellent guitar player as well, and his instrumental album David & Goliath is excellent. It's too bad it went out of print shortly after its release, but I saw Amazon listing its re-release due out next month. The material David contributed to Freaks of Nature in 1995 was some of my favorite Kansas music, and I look forward to seeing their next album. His take on material that Robby originally played is always interesting, and he's a very good player. They're more likely to do songs they haven't done in a while from albums Robby never played on. So all in all I have mixed feelings about this, but I'm looking forward to what they might do.

[Update: It is confirmed. David Ragsdale is back in Kansas, and they say it was a mutual decision.]

[Update 2: Two posts on kansasfans.com from people in daily contact with Robby say that it was his decision to quit and that he's happy with the decision. So he wasn't fired. Now I don't know what to think of the original Walsh message about how he didn't know who his friends were anymore. Maybe it was just some resentment over Robby's decision.]

33 Comments

I had the oportunity to see kansas at the Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana, CA not long ago. It was the first time I'd seen them "live" although I've been a fan since their first album. It must have been one of the last shows Robbie did with them. To say the least it was an exceptional show. One I'll never forget! I don't know that the band could be as good as they were that night. Funny thing is it was a Wednesday night, kinda wet and rainy and not a big crowd. Which actually added to my enjoyment as the Galaxy is a small dinner club and is prone to over booking so that it gets really crowded. Not this night. I and my date had excellent seats very close to the stage and they played all of my Kansas faves. Well that's pretty much it. I'm just glad that the one time I did see them was with Robbie.

I have always loved Robbie Steinhardt - even when all the other girls went for Walsh! I just prefer meat with my potatoes and good ole boys - Robbie will forever be the violinist with the hair flyin' sweat drippin' fingers flyin' "dream" I saw 3 people from the stage on the Monolith tour in Philly! the best concert ever! Good luck Robbie and you will be missed! You ROCKED!!

I met him tonight!
I served him his dinner and a Margarita.
He is the s**t!!!

I have loved Kansas for 30 years.But now I am totaly apalled by them.Robbie Steinhardt has alwats been the heart of this band.With his playing and singing.And for them to let him go and keep this Ragsdale,is disgusting.I guess Walsh couldn't stand the idea Robbie still vocally sounded great,and he sounds like sh[avingcream].It just goes to show you the old addage,keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.With Robbies voice,virtuousity and songwriting skills,he won't need you idiots anyway.Why don't you call your next cd Leftovers.It would fit you all well.I met Robbie 6 years ago when Kansas and Yes played togetheratn the E Center.He was being rushed away and stoped in mid walk and took 15 minutes to talk to my wife and myself and even sign an autograph for us.He is one in a million among these pretenders out there.A true class man and person.Robbie you rule always.

Ragsdale is better in many ways, even though there's a lot I love about Robby. Ragsdale writes excellent music, he's more skillful in a number of ways, and he's excited about the band. He in fact wants to be in the band, and Robby really didn't want to be anymore. There's no reason to blame the band for asking him to leave voluntarily, when the reason had entirely to do with his own attitude of not really having his heart in it anymore in a way that fans have admitted was sometimes affecting his performance. That they dragged it out as long as they did is testimony to their loyalty to him and their recognition of what all that he contributed to the band.

Robby's voice, frontman presence, soulful playing will be missed, and his attitude toward fans (although on-again, off-again) was usually pretty good. I met him after a show myself, and it was a great experience. But I know that Ragsdale is just as friendly with fans after shows, even though I haven't had the opportunity to meet him myself.

Walsh's voice has improved considerably since he stopped drinking and smoking illegal substances. It's not what it was in the 70s, but it's much easier on the ears than it was during the 90s. The CD they're working on right now doesn't have Walsh on it anyway. It's just the other four, and I'm expecting it to be absolutely excellent.


Hey, this is Peter Werneken from South Florida.
Having been a Kansas fan since 73 I am sad over the news of Robby leaving the band. Robby is one of the best leading men in the business. It is like the stones without Jagger.I have seen all the lineups Kansas has had to offer and it is not the same without Robby. I just listened to a live concert on the vault of the 82 Vinyl Confessions tour and The vocals were great with John Elephante on lead vocals. As usual Robby was strong on vocals and you can tell his style on the violin. I think Robby will be more missed than others. In saying that Steves voice was always one of my favorites and he gave me chills, the whole band did. The lyrics were very spirit filled, those coming from Kerry and Steve was more rock and roll influence. It was a great combination but that is what split them the first time. With those guys and Dave, Rich and Phil(awesome drummer) and Robby there is only one hope to get this original, one of the best in the world back together again in harmony. Kerry is a strong believer in Christ and if he could and wanted to hopefully the rest of the band or some of them have recieved the Lord. What an awesome record they would make. I dont know if you have listened to Christian Rock lately but they fit right in. Todays Christian market is huge and the music kicks. Kansas fans pray and see what happens.
God bless the entire Kansas Family.
Peter.

I won't go and see them play without Robbie. He was and is kick [butt]. Kansas without him is not the same. Robbie rocks!

It can be worth seeing them even if it's not the same. Different doesn't mean worse. I'd argue that in some ways the current lineup will be better, particularly in terms of the songs they haven't done in quite a while. The current setlist looks great. But that doesn't mean they're better in every way, just that both lineups are worth seeing.

By the way, I don't think it counts as a very strong compliment to someone if you can't be bothered to figure out how they spell their name, even if it's written right above what you're writing. It's a mark of lack of concern for something that to many people is very important.

i saw kansas about ayear ago and they sucked without robbie. they had billy greer singing all of robbies lines in the songs and it was horrible. i will never go see kansas again without robbie.ragsdale does,nt come close to what robbie did for this band.

Billy has been the best singer in the band since they reformed in 1986, so I'm not sure there's much to complain about. I'd rather he sing Walsh's parts and Walsh sing Robby's (as they used to do until 1997), but that's as far as I'd go.

Once again, the comment immediately above yours points out how to spell the guy's name, and you think you're somehow complimenting him by misspelling it so close to the correction?

kansas is not the same band without robby. robby was an important player in the group, now kansas has a big void to fill.ragsdale does,nt come close to filling robby,s shoes. i will not see kansas in concert again without robby being back.

I have known Robbie for 17 years and he was the only one in Kansas to take time to meet with his fans after a show in Orlando.He is and has always has been a class act as well as a great frontman at a live show.I too have no desire to see Kansas without him in the lineup.
I'm happy I was able to see him when I had the chance,just as I was when I had the chance to see Styx with Dennis Deyoung...

hunter t - how did you know robby for 17 years??? i also saw styx with the original line up. i would never go see styx without dennis deyoung.

in a best case scenario,the steinhardt-moon band will start rocking florida again

My old band Paradox opened for Kansas and Reo a few years ago and I have to admit that Robbie no doubt is the nicest guy in the band. Steve stayed hidden in his room up til play time. I have to say thanks to the whole band --I had lined up several Kansas records in our dressing room and they signed everyone of them. The show was great even though REO was late causing our set to be shortened to 3 songs! Yes folks we were unplugged right in the middle of Free Bird! What a disaster!

Robby and Kansas are so intertwined they cannot be separated. Saw their last tour with his replacement, although talented, it wasn't the same. Its like false teeth, they work, but its not the same.

David Ragsdale revitalized a Kansas on the wane back in 1991. Anyone who refuses to recognize that and give him credit is way out of step with the facts. Any fan of Kansas who was happy to see Robby return from 1997-2006 ought to give Rags credit for helping rejuvenate the band to the point that, when he left, there was still a place for Robby to return to.

David Ragsdale is also an excellent writer. Most of his solo album contained pieces that would have worked nicely within Kansas songs.

You may miss some of what Robby brings, but please don't pretend that the only thing Ragsdale has contributed is talent at playing.

Its not the same without Robby so I'm afraid to say I'll never spend my hard earned money on the Band again!

I'm a 70s man and I loved Kansas back than. I saw them in concert in the 70s and loved the show. Than around 2005 they played in a small place in Glenside, Pa. My girl and I had front row seats and I was blow away. I never thought they could still come across with the goods but I was wrong. The crowd gave them so much love that they stopped the show and Robbie walked over to Walsh and they had a conversion. After that the show exploded. They were happy and smiling at the crowd. I remember Robbie saying that "who said you can't rock at 55 years old". That show was one of the best concerts I've ever been to and I have been to a lot. Than two years later I saw them again without Robbie and they were lame. Their stage presence was gone and and Walsh's voice was shot. I would love to see Robbie return and a bonus would be to see them again with Kerry Livgen

Robbie was a sincere cool guy Im sure he had seen enough with Kansas and perhaps Steve Wash. I think its evident to any long time Kansas fan that Walsh's voice is basically fried....badly. I think in the last few years Robbie helped out tremendously on the vocals. I honestly have thought for a long time that Kansas without Livgren, Walsh, and Stienhart is not really "Kansas" its just a few former members that do it for the little money thats left in the name.

Steve's voice got better between 1998 and 2000, and it's not as bad as it used to be during the 90s.

Robby sang the parts he always sang. He didn't sing Steve's. Billy Greer did sing some of Steve's high notes but not usually melodies. My understanding is that this is no longer necessary.

There's never been a Kansas lineup without both Livgren and Walsh, never mind without them and Steinhardt.

I saw Robbie sing "Born on wings of steel" in the 70's in Denver at McNichols Arena and never saw stage presence and talent like he and Kerry Livgren showed that night. Then I saw Walsh and the boys a few years later without either of them. Not even close boys. I wish Robbie and Kerry would get together and show the world how to rock. Greg Pavel, Chisago City Minnesota

robbie was the signature and the frontman of kansas. no person will ever fill that role. rock on robbie.....miss ya!!!

One of my greatest brushes with fame came in Memphis around 1982 after a Budweiser Superjam. I rode there from Little Rock with my friend, our older girlfriends and a girl us two guys had never met....lets call her "Julie". After the show my friend and I were walking on Beale Street and saw "Julie" with a guy we thought looked strangely familiar, but NAW...couldn't be him...awhile later we made it back to the Dodge Ramcharger we had ridden to Memphis in and guess who was in there getting stoned? IT WAS HIM!!! "Julie" had gone to college with Robbie. Needless to say we were in awe...then we all got blasted! Robbie was SUPER COOL to us.
I put Kansas up there with Rush as far as best ever bands.

Robbie is and has been a friend of mine since the early 70's. He is one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Kansas will never be the same without him---he was the show. He always took time out for his fans and I remember him always saying "Without you (the audience and fans) they would of been nothing" He was deeply appreciative of everyone who came to see them and bought their records. Love ya man--Troy from Eureka, Kansas

Robbie and I became friends when we played darts together in Tampa back in 83/84. He had taken a break from Kansas at that time. I can say that Robbie is one of the nicest people you could meet. He helped me out during a rough time in my life and for that I can never thank him enough. I still owe him a Sammy Adams Tadcaster ale :) . Went to see Kansas at Glenside, PA a few years back and have to say I cannot imagine seeing them live without him.

I saw KANSAS back when they started in '70 before they left Kansas. We Jayhwkers were proud of them (the ONLY band of any fame to make it out of that desolate state). They were great up until MONOTLITH. Like so many other bands from that era, they should have quit and stayed quit when on top. The worst cases that come to mind are THE WHO ("hope I die before I get old", HA! INDEED!) and THE ROLLING STONES (GROAN!). They're all just an embarrassment now! I cringe!

That was mostly a different band around 1970. Dave Hope and Phil Ehart were in the first lineup, with Livgren and a bunch of other guys who didn't continue past 1973, and Hope and Ehart were gone by 1971. Livgren left Kansas to join Hope and Ehart's band White Clover, and then they changed White Clover's name to Kansas. But most of the originals never made it to the success. They did some good music back then, some of which is available on Proto-Kaw: Early Recordings of Kansas 1971-1973, but the earliest 1970 lineup has no recordings that I've ever heard (and I've gotten my hands on some rare recordings, including some unreleased stuff from 1972 or so).

I completely disagree about the stuff they did after their commercial peak. I liked some of the stuff they did with John Elefante in the early 80s, especially the stuff Livgren wrote but a couple Elefante songs also. While the Steve Morse era in the late 80s was very different, it still had some great music. Morse is a great guitarist. But a lot of stuff after that was every bit as good as the early stuff, especially on the 1995 album Freaks of Nature and the 2000 album Somewhere to Elsewhere, which I think is their best album (it had all the members from the original album). The Kansas II band of 1971-1973 returned as Proto-Kaw around 2004 or so maybe and produced two excellent albums also. The last decade or so has seen some of Livgren's best music.

I can't beleive this thread is still active, I doubt anyone will ever read this, but it feels good to put it down anyway. I have loved Kansas since my brother Curtis bought me Monolith for my birthday. Despite what Will says, Monolith was a great album. It had that great Kansas sound, but was different enough to make it interesting. And I agree with most of you, Kansas will never be Kansas without Robbie Steinhardt. I've seen Steinhardt-Moon, Kansas without Robbie and Kansas' first show in the 90's with Robbie back in the lineup at Jannus Landing in St. Pete, and he was awsome. I was about 10 feet from the stage, and at a lull between songs, I yelled "Down the Road". Robbie looked right at me, smiled, and then proceeded to absolutely shred the violin on that song. It is something I will never forget. I also remember the condesending look that Walsh gave to Steinhardt many times during the show. His ego ruined the band. I will love Kansas forever, and they will be playing at my funeral. I wish Robbie Steinhardt nothing but the best, and I hope he finds whatever he needs in life to make him happy.

I have always loved Kansas. They have some of the greatest songs of all times. I have always thought the Livgren was the words, Walsh and Steinhardt were the voices, but Robbie was the face that I saw when I think of Kansas. Together they have been a great force in rock music. I am going to have the pleasure of seeing them live this Sunday at our Homecoming here in town. It will be the first time and I'm just glad there are still original members in the band. So many of the great bands are still going on with the name but might as well just be a cover band because of the people that are in them. It should be awesome!!!!

I have loved Kansas since 1977, when I first heard "The Wall". I Finaaly got to see them play at The Power Station, in Melbourne, Fla on Jan 18, 1992. It was a roadhouse type place where you could get right up to the stage (no seats). It was the greatest concert I have ever been to. There was no great light show or pyrotechnics, just killer keys, vocals, and lyrics. A bunch of guys and I who were attending Full Sail in Winter Park had driven out to the coast to catch all the magic. We were not disappointed. When Kansas played "miracles out of nowhere", I couldn't believe anyone could play that song in a roadhouse like a studio recording. The song itself is the most impressive rock song I believe I have ever heard, and most people don't know of it. I was lucky enough to see them again on Nov 4, 1995 at a place called "Mass MoCA" in North Adams, Mass. The building was not yet the art museum everyone's heard of today, just an empty mill room with wooden supports which Steve Walsh kept running into when he would do his antics on stage. I thought they deserved better. Steve actually played keys while doing a headstand on the keyboard itself ( I had wondered what the towel sitting on the keyboard was for). The show was once again magnificent, and I must conclude that Kansas is probably the greatest and most underestimated band of all time.

I saw my first Kansas concert in 78 and been a huge fan ever since. If you haven't seen the concert they did (and filmed) for their 35th anniversary back in Wichita with a full symphony behind them then you need to go grab it off of youtube ... unreal! I'm sorry but I like david's fiddle playing better than Robbies and Walsh sounded great!

Well, I will do my part in keeping this thread alive after 7 years. I have to agree that Robby was the heart of Kansas. Sure, Kerry wrote the majority of the brilliant music, but Robby was the face and heart and soul of the band. While Steve was undoubtedly very talented, he was not the frontman that Robbie was.

I grew up as a teenager in the 70's listening to Kansas and I saw a couple of memorable shows from them during that era. I had not seen the band since the Monolith tour and when I found out that they were playing some small time city fair or something in Beaverton (Oregon) about 15 years or so ago, I was in! From the opening of "Song For America" with Robby leading the way on the violin, in the broad daylight in a nondescript park, all of the years were melted away and I was a teenager again. I had a smile on my face from the beginning to the very end.

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