Just as they are embarking on their latest tour, the band Kansas has been dealt a crushing blow; former violinist and vocalist Robby Steinhardt has died at age 71.
Although Steinhardt had retired from the band in 2006, he has made frequent appearances at live shows when the band performs in the Topeka area. Violin duties are currently handled in Kansas by David Ragsdale.
He died this past Saturday, July 17th, in Tampa, Florida.
The Lawrence native’s wife, Cindy Steinhardt, a photographer, wrote on her Facebook page earlier today (7/19/21);
“Our final journey started May 13 when Robby was admitted into the hospital with acute pancreatitis. Later that night he went into acute septic shock and was placed on life support,” his wife wrote. “65 days later, on the day he was to be released from medical care and move to the rehabilitation center to build his strength, his body had other plans. A fever set in, blood pressure became uncontrollable, the sepsis reared its ugly head again.”
“He died in my arms at 6:30pm Saturday July 17, 2021.”
A founding member of the Topeka-originated band, Steinhardt performed on studio albums and live with them from 1973 to 1982 and from 1997 to 2006. He and Steve Walsh were the only original members of the band who were not from Topeka.
The band has been heralded as one of the innovators of the progressive-rock genre in the US, with Steinhardt’s strings fitting perfectly within the interplay of Walsh’s keyboards and guitars from Kerry Livgren and Rich Williams.
Steinhardt began his stint with Kansas in an early incarnation of the band called ‘White Clover’ with Steve Walsh on vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, Rich Williams on guitars. Early in 1973, they recruited Livgren from another local band, which had since folded. They were offered a recording contract with Don Kirshner’s label after an assistant heard one of their demo tapes and then saw the band at one of their local gigs in Ellinwood, Kansas. After signing with Kirshner, the group decided to return to using the name “Kansas”.
Steinhardt had suffered a major heart attack in 2013, underwent a quadruple bypass, and spent 52 days in the hospital.
Steinhardt was born on May 25, 1950.