Kansas is a band whose peak era was in the late 1970s. Playing a heavier form of adult-orientated rock with a commercial sound, their most famous records were 'Carry On Wayward Son' and 'Dust in the Wind', both of which were hit singles despite the band earning its fame largely on the back of album success.
The band came together in 1970, when a group of musicians formed a progressive rock band in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas. The original core membership of the group consisted of bassist Dave Hope, guitarist and keyboard player Kerry Livgren, drummer Phil Ehart, along with singer/songwriter Steve Walsh, who was from Missouri. Vocalists Lynn Meredith and Joel Warne would later join, along with keyboardists Don Montre and Dan Wright and finally, saxophonist Larry Baker. The band went through several line-up changes and name changes, before signing a record deal as 'Kansas' in 1973. The band's eponymous debut album came out in 1974, and melded together American boogie-rock with the kind of symphonic arrangements and alternative time signatures of prog rock. They would follow this debut with two more albums, 'Song for America' and 'Masque', which consolidated growing commercial success that had largely come on the back of extensive touring.
At their peak
A fourth album entitled 'Leftoverture' was released in November 1976. 'Carry On Wayward Son' was one of the tracks on this LP. October 1977 saw the release of the 'Point of Know Return' album, one of its track being 'Dust in the Wind'. This period saw the growth of the band into enormous stars, with them selling out arenas and headlining at Madison Square Garden. The 'Monolith' album of 1979 saw them continue their success, but the signs of a decline in popularity was beginning to show when the album failed to garner the kind of massive sales and airplay of its predecessors. Nevertheless, it still went platinum.
Split and reformation
Internal tensions within the band started to pull it apart in the early 1980s. Kerry Livgren became a born-again Christian, and this seemed to alienate some of the band members, with a changeover in personnel occurring at this time despite the continuing success of the band's album releases. The band folded in 1984, with its last release being the greatest hits compilation with one new song. However, this was not the end of the road. In 1985, a new Kansas formed, and the band continued to go through many changes in personnel and line-up over the next two and a half decade, whilst still releasing the occasional album. The band continues to tour today, largely as part of the 'oldies' circuit accompanying bands such as Foreigner.