Robby Steinhardt, co-founder and former member of the Topeka-formed progressive rock group Kansas, will always be a part of the minds, souls and music of current and former members of that group, they said Monday.
Steinhardt, whose classically influenced fiddle playing sets Kansas apart from other rock bands, died at a hospital in Tampa, Fla., On Saturday at the age of 71 of complications from pancreatitis.
Steinhardt served as master of ceremonies and shared lead vocals duties with Steve Walsh while performing for 18 years with Kansas. Current and former members expressed their grief in a statement posted Monday on the group’s Facebook site.
âWhat he’s brought to us as members of the band, to the fans who have attended our concerts and to the Kansas sound, will always be genuine,â they said. “We love him and will always be missed.”
Steinhardt’s death was announced Monday on his personal Facebook page by his wife, Cindy Steinhardt.
âWe are more than devastated as our lives were about to begin a new adventure,â she said.
Robby Steinhardt had recently recorded his first solo album with music producer Michael Franklin at Solar Studio based in Orlando, Fla., And was planning to go on tour starting in August, Cindy Steinhardt said on Facebook.
She said her husband was hospitalized in May with acute pancreatitis, then suffered acute septic shock and was placed on life support.
Steinhardt then recovered but recently suffered from another sepsis as he was about to be released to a rehabilitation center after a 65-day hospital stay, Cindy Steinhardt said.
Robby Steinhardt was among the original Kansas members, along with Kerry Livgren, who graduated from Topeka West High School in 1967; 1968 Topeka West graduates Rich Williams, Phil Ehart and Dave Hope; and Walsh, who grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri. All but Steinhardt survive.
Robby Steinhardt grew up Lawrence, the son of Milton Steinhardt, who taught music at the University of Kansas.
Still, Steinhardt considered himself a Topekan because of the time he spent here “getting in shape” Kansas, he said during a July 2016 attendance at an event in the NOTO Arts District. by North Topeka.
âThere was an inspiration here that I guess no one really knew,â he said. âKerry did, and the rest of us kind of followed suit.
Robby Steinhardt was originally a member of another Topeka-based progressive rock band called White Clover, which transformed into Kansas in 1973.
The unique and influenced sound of the Kansas Orchestra has made its members rock stars.
They sold over 15 million records while having seven top 40 hits with songs that included “Dust in the Wind” and “Carry on Wayward Son”.
Steinhardt left Kansas for personal reasons in 1982, later becoming the frontman of his own group, Steinhardt-Moon, and then a member of the Stormbringer Band.
Steinhardt joined Kansas in 1997.
âWelcome Kansas, and welcome to Kansas,â he said at the start of the group’s 2002 performance in front of a crowd of people standing at the Topeka Performing Arts Center.
Kansas and its audience “rose above the noise and confusion” that day to share a collective memory, The Capital-Journal reported.
The steady pace of the tours prompted Steinhardt to leave the group again in 2006.
Kansas continues to perform, with Williams and Ehart being the only original members remaining. Kansas has now made Atlanta its home.
Steinhardt suffered a heart attack in 2013.
He joined Kansas for a song at his last concert in July 2016 at Topeka in what is now the Stormont Vail Events Center, not playing the fiddle but swapping lead vocals with current Kansas singer Ronnie Platt on the 1977 band’s song “Sparks of the Tempest”.
Cindy Steinhardt encouraged fans to share their memories of her husband on her personal Facebook page.
âYour violin virtuosity was the first thing that struck me when I first heard Kansas at the age of 14,â wrote Dutch Dehnert, of Middletown, Penn. âYou were a superb singer and the greatest emcee in rock music history, the Great Poobah, spinning your violin and whipping that huge mane of hair in the spotlight that shone on you in the center of the stage. “
Greg Holt, a self-proclaimed âviolinistâ from St. Petersburg, Fla., A member of the International Blues Hall of Fame, wrote: âHe was the first traditional rock violin player. Classically trained, he was technically one of the best rock violin players. AND he was my neighbor. He had recently resumed playing at small local venues in Tampa Bay and I was delighted to reconnect. “