On Saturday, May 31, Kansas will perform at the Struthers Library Theatre at 8 p.m.
Celebrating their 40th year as a band in 2013, Kansas' first public statement appeared on their self-titled album in 1974. "From the beginning, we considered ourselves and our music different and we hope we will always remain so," they said. Little did this legendary rock group realize that back in the early 70s, what seemed to be "different," was actually ahead of its time.
This "garage band" from Topeka was discovered by Wally Gold, who worked for Don Kirshner, and released their first album in 1974. Kansas has produced eight gold albums, three sextuple-Platinum albums ("Leftoverture," " Point of Know Return," "Best of Kansas"), one platinum live album ("Two for the Show") and a million-selling gold single, "Dust in the Wind." Kansas appeared on the Billboard charts for more than 200 weeks throughout the 70's and 80's and played to sold-out arenas and stadiums throughout North America, Europe and Japan. In fact, "Carry On Wayward Son" was the number two most played track on classic rock radio in 1995 and went to number one in 1997.
In 1998, Kansas released an orchestral album, "Always Never the Same," recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London. They followed with an orchestral tour accompanied by top-caliber symphony orchestras. In 2000 Kansas went back into the studio with original band member and songwriter Kerry Livgren to produce "Somewhere to Elsewhere," the first album featuring all six of the original players in 20 years. The ten new songs were written by Kerry Livgren and recorded in his studio in Topeka, Kansas. Players included: Phil Ehart, Billy Greer, Dave Hope, Kerry Livgren, Robby Steinhardt, Steve Walsh and Richard Williams.
Kansas in 2002, released a state-of-the-art DVD using the latest technology in film, audio and visual design, entitled "Device-Voice-Drum." The DVD was the driving force behind the 2002/2003 tour. Sony Music released a boxed set in 2004 titled "Sail On" which featured unique Kansas cuts as well as vintage video footage on the included DVD disc. In 2006, Kansas, released the two-disc (one CD/one DVD) anthology "Works In Progress." Material was taken from a decade's worth of studio and live albums and home videos - 1992's "Live At The Whisky," 1995's "Freaks Of Nature," 1998's "Always Never The Same" and 2002's "Device Voice Drum."
In 2009, in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas celebrated their 35th anniversary with a symphonic concert, accompanied by the Washburn University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Larry Baird. The DVD release "There's Know Place Like Home" captured this unique live performance and featured special guests Kerry Livgren and Steve Morse with spectacular lighting and high-resolution clarity. "There's Know Place Like Home" includes favorites such as "Dust In The Wind," "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Point of Know Return" as well as a sampling from each album in their discography, with a special symphonic touch.
Inspired by their 35th anniversary DVD "There's Know Place Like Home," in 2010 Kansas began a Collegiate Symphony Tour, performing their hits accompanied by various college and university symphonies throughout the United States to help raise funds and awareness for collegiate music programs. In 2011, the tour led to a special collaboration with the U.S. Army Orchestra culminating in the "Carry On Concert" honoring America's veterans on Veteran's Day 11/11/11 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
The band is currently comprised of original drummer Phil Ehart, bassist Billy Greer, violinist David Ragsdale, original singer/keyboardist Steve Walsh, and original guitarist Richard Williams. They continued their Collegiate Symphony Tour through the spring of 2012 and headlined a package tour with the band, Kings X, in the fall of 2012.
Coinciding with the celebration of their 40th anniversary, Kansas was inducted into the Kansas Historical Hall of Fame in June 2013. They are being included alongside other notables in Kansas history such as Dr. James Naismith, Superman/Clark Kent, and the First and Second Regiments Kansas Colored Infantry from the Civil War. Some previous inductees include President Dwight Eisenhower, Senator Bob Dole, Gen. Richard B. Myers, Amelia Earhart, George Washington Carver, and Ed Asner.
Along with touring, Kansas continues to remain a fixture of classic rock radio and has reached a whole new audience through their unmistakable presence on the popular video games Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and through their songs inclusion in various television shows such as "Supernatural" and "South Park," and with films "Old School" and "Anchorman."
This concert is sponsored by Whirley DrinkWorks. Tickets are available by calling 723-7231.