As reported by Prog (via Consequence), musician Robby Steinhardt—best known as the founding violinist and a co-lead singer for Kansas—has died from complications related to acute pancreatitis. According to a statement released by his family, Steinhardt had been working on a new album that was set to be released later this year and planned to go on tour at some point before getting sick. It’s unclear if anything from that project will still be released, but the statement noted that his work with Kansas (particularly on tracks like “Dust In The Wind,” “Point Of No Return,” and “Carry On Wayward Son”) have “etched Robby a solid place in rock history.” Steinhardt was 71.
Born in 1950 and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, Steinhardt’s adoptive father was the director of music history at the University Of Kansas, and Steinhardt began taking violin lessons at a young age. Though not an original member of the original version of Kanas, Steinhardt joined the group in 1972 when it merged with fellow Kansas (the state) progressive rock band White Clover—after having already merged one time before—to form the version of Kansas that released the group’s debut album in 1974. Steinhardt played violin and sang backup vocals, in addition to emceeing the group’s live shows.
Steinhardt stuck with Kansas up through the release of its eighth album, Vinyl Confessions, which came out in 1983. He worked on other projects and with other bands for the next decade or so, rejoining Kansas in 1997 ahead of the release of Always Never The Same. Steinhardt left Kansas again, for the last time, in 2006 due to the intense pace of the band’s touring schedule. After working with some other prog rock groups and on prog-related projects, Steinhardt had—once again—been working on new solo material for this year before his death. He is survived by his wife and daughter.