Robby Steinhardt, Kansas Frontman and Violinist, Dies at 71

by Katie Maloney

Robby Steinhardt, violinist and co-lead vocalist of the rock band, Kansas, has died.

Kansas certainly made its mark on the music world throughout the 1970s and 80s. During that time, they landed on the Billboard charts for over 200 weeks. They produced nine gold albums, three multi-platinum albums, one platinum studio album, and a platinum live double album. They are best known for the iconic songs, “Carry On Wayward Son,” and “Dust in the Wind.”

Violinist and co-lead singer, Robby Steinhardt was an integral part of the Kansas legacy. Steinhardt’s father was a music professor so Steinhardt grew up playing and studying classical guitar. But it wasn’t until 1972 that his destiny began to take shape. It was that year that Steinhardt joined the rock band named, White Clover. The band had already gone through several band member and name changes including Kansas I. But after Steinhardt joined the band, the crew was solidified. The band included Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart, and Rich Williams, while Kerry Livgren. Steinhardt shared vocal duties with Walsh. But it was his violinist skills that really distinguished Kansas’ sound. And in 1973, the band landed a record deal and officially changed their name to Kansas.

Kansas Lands Their First Number One Hit With Robby Steinhardt’s Help

The band spent the next three years releasing music and touring before producing their breakout hit song, “Carry On Wayward Son.” The rest is music history.

On Saturday, July 17th, Robby Steinhardt died at 71. According to his wife, Cindy Steinhardt, Steinhardt was admitted to the hospital with acute pancreatitis in May. Shortly after the diagnosis, he went into acute septic shock and was placed on life support. Although doctors didn’t think Steinhardt was going to make it, he ended up recovering. However, a few months later, Steinhardt suffered another sepsis and was unable to recover.

Cindy Steinhardt shared the news via Facebook. She wrote, “We are beyond devastated as our lives were about to start a new adventure. 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. I’ve always tried to share our lives with you but I ask you to please respect this heavy time of grief. I encourage you to share your stories and pictures of Robby on his page. My only regret is that I can’t share them with him to show him how much he is loved.”

Steinhardt is survived by his wife Cindy and daughter Becky.