Robby Steinhardt, violinist and co-lead vocalist for Kansas, died Saturday after a bout of acute pancreatitis and septic shock, his wife Cindy Steinhardt confirmed on Facebook. He was 71.
On May 13, Robby Steinhardt was hospitalized with acute pancreatitis. Later that evening, he went into acute septic shock and was put on life support. Although the prospects were “very serious”, he survived another two months.
On July 17, the day Steinhardt was to be released from medical care and moved to a rehab center, he suffered another sepsis and died at Tampa General Hospital.
“We are out of ruin as our lives were about to start a new adventure,” Cindy wrote in the post. “Robby just recorded his first solo album with talented music producer Michael Franklin at Solar Studios. (With) a tour that started in August, so Robby looked forward to being back on stage and doing what he loved.”
Cindy continued: “I have always tried to share our lives with you, but I ask you to respect this difficult time of grief. I encourage you to share your stories and pictures of Robby on his side. My only regret is that I can do not share them with him to show him how much he is loved. “
Kansas also issued a statement saying, “The members of the band Kansas, past and present, want to express our deepest grief over the death of our bandmate and friend Robby Steinhardt. Robby will always be in our souls, in our minds and in our music. It “he brought to us as bandmates, to the fans who attended our concerts and to the sound of Kansas will always be heartfelt. We love him and will always miss him.”
Born in Chicago in 1950, Steinhardt grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, with his adoptive parents. He studied and played classical violin, and in 1972 he joined a rock band based in Topeka called White Clover. The band, which soon became known as Kansas, featured Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart and Rich Williams, while Kerry Livgren joined shortly after and became the lead songwriter.
Steinhardt shared vocal assignments with Walsh, switching between backup and lead, but his violin helped set Kansas apart from other bands.
Kansas’ self-titled debut album was released in 1974, and two years later the band achieved mainstream success with “Leftoverture”, which featured the hit song “Carry on Wayward Son”. Steinhardt sang lead on two tracks on the five-time platinum breakthrough, “Miracles Out of Nothing” and “Cheyenne Anthem.”
On the almost equally successful follow-up in 1977, “Point of Know Return,” his lead song appeared on four tracks: “Closet Chronicles,” “Lightning’s Hand,” “Sparks of the Tempest” and “Hopelessly Human.”
In 1982 Steinhardt left the band and played with Rick Moon in the group Steinhardt Moon, and in the 90’s the violinist also played with the band Stormbringer. In the late ’90s, Steinhardt rejoined Kansas, but left the band again in 2006.