Biography: Mk 3 / Mk 5 (Morse) / Mk 6 / 2000 / Mk 8 (David Ragsdale is back !)
The band White Clover featured Phil Ehart. Kerry Livgren was the leader of the band Saratoga. In early 1970 Phil and Kerry decided to put together a band. Dave suggested the name Kansas rather than the Chocolate Eyeball or some psychedelic, weird thing that didn´t make any sense.
The first Kansas from 1970 was Kerry Livgren, Phil Ehart, Dave Hope, Dan Wright (keys, guitar), Larry Baker (guitar, sax), Don Montre (keys, flute) and Lynn Meredith and Greg Allen on vocals. The 8-piece included two guitarists, two keyboardists and two lead singers, one whom quit within some weeks. The bands only notoriety came on December 12, 1970 when they opened for The Doors. Jim Morrison invited Kansas on stage for their last song, an instrumental blues jam. That show at the Warehouse in New Orleans would happen to be The Doors last concert. The band split in the fall of 1971, with Kerry forming a second 7-member version of Kansas.
The new Kansas was made up of Kerry on guitar, Lynn Meredith on vocals, Dan Wright (keys, guitar), Don Montre (keys, sax, flute), Zeke Low (drums), Rod Mikinski (bass) and John Bolton (sax, flute). Phil and Dave reformed White Clover but Phil split and went to England for three months and when coming back he started putting a new White Clover together with some people from old versions and some new faces from other bands. It was now the summer of 1972 and Phil, Steve, Robby, Dave and Rich - White Clover - began rehearsing.
Since the band needed another writer to complement Steve, Phil suggested to Kerry in early 1973 that he leave his group and join White Clover. When Don Kirshner signed the band later that year they took Kerry´s former bands name, Kansas.
The Mk 3 line-up
Phil Ehart, Robby Steinhardt, Kerry Livgren, Richard Williams, Steve Walsh, Dave Hope. This is the line-up that most people consider to be the original and definitive line-up. This line-up released 8 albums between 1974 and 1980 (including a live album) although Steve once in 1977, while recording Point Of Know Return briefly left the group (for about 3 days). In late 1981 Steve decided to leave the group, mostly over disagreements with the band´s musical direction. This time his departure would last years, instead of days. Last show was on Sep 6 at Saratoga Springs, New York.
In 1982 John Elefante replaced Steve for the album Vinyl Confessions (Mark 4a) and for their tenth album Drastic Measures in 1983 Robby Steinhardt left the group and they were to be without a violin player for almost 10 years (Mark 4b). The Kerry Livgren era for Kansas was over, he left for the contemporary Christian group AD, taking Dave Hope with him. John Elefante had also followed suit into the Christian market, as a writer/producer for rock/metal acts, most notably Christian rock pioneers Petra. The Mark 5 line-up 1986 marked the introduction of guitarist Steve Morse replacing Kerry and bass player Billy Greer replacing Dave with their album Power (Mark 5). It was also the comeback of original singer Steve Walsh who returned to the group after the commercially disappointing Streets, where he played with Greer. Greer came to Streets from the band QB1. Also in Streets were former City Boy guitarist Mike Slamer. This Kansas line-up also recorded In The Spirit Of Things in 1988. The Mark 5 albums This is what Phil says about Morse joining Kansas: "Again, it was all about luck. I went to a Robert Plant concert and Steve Morse was sitting in front of me. There were 20,000 seats and if he would have sat anywhere else, then him being in Kansas would have never happened. But he was right in front of me and at the end of the show he turned to me and said, “Man, that was a great show. By the way, I hear you guys are looking for a guitar player. Can I give it a shot?” He came over and we went from there. It was not a stroke of genius or anything like that at all — it was more luck." (click to read about my meeting with Steve Morse) The solo album from Steve Morse called "Major Impacts" features one track influenced by Kansas. This is what was said on the web site: Prognosis, a tribute to both Yes and Kansas, that is the record's strident, full band workout. Steve explains the mystique of a band like Kansas. "What I really enjoyed about their music was the majestic, classical influence put in easy-to-digest phrases. I always enjoyed listening to them play and was amazed when I found myself trying to write music for a new reunion album which led to my joining Kansas for some years. I can point to some very proud musical moments along the way, and a respect for the hard work they were always willing to put in." Read more about the Magna Carta albums by Steve Morse. The Mark 6 line-up Actually Livgren was back and toured with Kansas, when newcomer David Ragsdale joined in June 1991. When it didn't work out with Livgren, Steve Morse came back and Kansas played 19 shows in the fall of 1991 with both Ragsdale and Morse before Morse left for good. Ragsdale actually sent Phil Ehart a tape already back in 1987 and had been hunting for a spot in Kansas for four years. When Morse left the band it would take 4 years until the group released another studio album but with the addition of David Ragsdale on violin and guitar the group were on a new high. Their second live album Live at the Whisky released in 1992 is proof of that (Mark 6). This touring Kansas also had Greg Robert on keyboards as a full member even though he already had toured with them after Power and added keyboard and vocals to In The Spirit Of Things. The album also features guest appearance by Kerry Livgren. He also went in to the studio with Kansas to record Wheels, that he had written, for the box that Kansas released in 1994. When Phil Ehart took a break from touring for 15 months (Sep 1993-Dec 1994), the drums were being handled by Van Romaine, (from Steve Morse Band) for 10 gigs in late 1993. From April to October 1994 a guy called Bryan Holmes took over. Finally in 1995 the Mk6 line-up recorded a great new Kansas studio album, Freaks Of Nature, with another song written by Kerry (back in 1972), entitled Cold Grey Morning. In 1996 they supported Styx on their comeback tour but after the tour Greg Robert left the band and later David Ragsdale sadly decided to leave the band for a solo career. Their last show was on Jan 31, 1997 in Kansas City, Missouri. This led to the comeback of Robby Steinhardt on violin and vocals. (Mark 7). His first show back in the band was March 1 in Orlando, Florida. After a summer tour in the US they started the recording of a new studio album with London Symphony Orchestra in September, with mostly old Kansas songs in new versions. The new album Always Never The Same, had a few new songs, of which Need To Know and In Your Eyes, are great. 2000 marked the premiere of their New Official Web Page In 2000 they also got together with Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren to make the first CD featuring all 6 of the original Mark 3 line-up in 20 years! All 10 songs written by Kerry Livgren. Somewhere To Elsewhere was ready to be shipped on Jun 1st 2000. See review Another project for 2000 was Glossolalia, with Steve Walsh, Billy Greer and Mike Slamer among others. Photo by Susan Slamer, Autumn 1999 Billy, Mike Slamer (Steelhouse Lane, Streets, City Boy) and Steve were briefly reunited last year (together with Keith Slack from Steelhouse Lane & Michael Schenker Group) when Kansas played a gig in Mike's hometown of Los Angeles. It is this meeting that sparked the idea for Slamer to work once again with Walsh and Greer. The second Steelhouse Lane album is VERY GOOD , check my songrating On the Magna Carta website you can read about Somewhere To Elsewhere and Glossolalia. One song on Glossolalia is titled Rebecca and showcases the versatility and passion within Walsh's vocals and takes inspiration from the cinema. "That’s an Alfred Hitchcock movie by the same name. Back around 1939, there was a whole plethora of great movies, and Rebecca is one of them, my favorite Hitchcock movie. That one was also co-written by the same guy who I worked with on the song Heart Attack, Marty Bolin. And again, Trent and I reworked it. About ten years ago, Marty and myself got together in Los Angeles and he said ‘I have these two songs with music but no lyrics and no idea for melody.’ So I took them and Rebecca reminded me of the movie so I really paid attention to it and tried to get inside the character." More projects in 2000: Billy Greer's The Sign and Seventh Key. Seventh Key is a great album, check my Top 10 lists In 2002 Steve Walsh released two more projects: Explorers Club and Khymera. Check the discography for more releases. Especially the second album by Seventh Key from 2004 and the Live DVD released November 7, 2005. Steve Walsh latest solo album "Shadowman" came out July 4th, 2005. In June 2005 Kansas returned to Sweden (first time since March 11, 1978) for the Sweden Rock Festival, (see review) and in October Billy Greer played one show in Germany with Seventh Key. (see review) Photo by Tanya Lelo In March 2006 Robby Steinhardt left the band and in came David Ragsdale again. It all happened when Kansas played two shows at the Stardust in Las Vegas (March 10-11) and Ragsdale showed up at the hotel to meet the band. He was asked to join rather quickly. Davids latest project before re-joining Kansas was Phoenix. The new Mark 8 line-up is with the exception of Greg Robert the same as Mark 6. The big difference is that Billy Greer is now the frontman, since Steve Walsh has stepped aside a bit. Since Freaks of Nature is one of my favorite Kansas albums I have good hope for the future. And judging from what Steve Walsh has written on his website, you might be able to hear other stuff now, and not just material from the 70's. On April 22, 2006 the Mark 8 line-up had their first show, at Riverfest in Vicksburg, Mississippi. See Rick's Kansas Pics for photos and this link for an interview. On July 30, 2006 I saw Kansas in St. Paul, Minnesota together with my son Ted. It had been just two days short of 10 years since last time I saw Kansas with Ragsdale (August 1). In September I saw them again in Las Vegas, Nevada !!! On Oct 7 in Destin, Florida, Dave Hope made a guest appearance on Carry On Wayward Son. Here you can vote for Kansas to be placed into the Hall of Fame My signature number for this petition is 2027. In early 2007 Phil Ehart, Billy Greer, David Ragsdale and Richard Williams announced that they are working on a new CD recording entity entitled Native Window. Native Window creates a new outlet to explore musical styles that don't necessarily fit into the Kansas mold. Thus Native Window has been born... Billy Greer will be singing lead vocals. Songs are from outside collaborations, but many will be written solely within the band. Billy Greer: "When we get together in the studio, the creative sparks really fly! Anything goes!" Native Window will be entering the studio in April and will continue to record thru the summer, while working around the Kansas touring schedule. The album was finally released in 2009. This project delayed Billy Greer's work on the third Seventh Key album. But in 2011 the recording started and mixing of the album will be done after Mike Slamer has finished another recording, More photos of David: © 2011 Patrik Wikström Send E-mail
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