Robert Eugene Steinhardt (May 25, 1950 – July 17, 2021) was an American rock violinist and singer best known for his work with the group Kansas, for which he was co-lead singer/"frontman" and MC along with keyboardist Steve Walsh, from 1973 to 1982 and from 1997 to 2006. He and Steve Walsh were the only original members of the band not from Topeka.
|Birth name||Robert Eugene Steinhardt|
|Born||May 25, 1950|
Chicago, Illinois, US
|Died||July 17, 2021 (aged 71)|
Tampa, Florida, US
|Genres||Progressive rock, rock|
Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1950, Steinhardt grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and was the adopted son of Ilse and Milton Steinhardt. Milton Steinhardt was the director of music history at the University of Kansas. Robby started violin lessons at age eight and was classically trained. When his family traveled to Europe, the young Steinhardt played with some orchestras there. Steinhardt attended Lawrence High School and was the concertmaster during his high school years. He often said that joining a rock band caused him to develop poor playing habits, one of which was holding his violin to the side of his head to hear himself better through the guitar amps and PA system.
Work with KansasEdit
Steinhardt's violin sound, and its interplay with the guitar and keyboards, helped define the Kansas sound. His lead vocals provided a contrast to the high tenor of singer Steve Walsh. The two often sang in harmony, with Steinhardt taking the lower voice. He said that unless he had a writing credit on a song—his credits include about a half dozen songs—the violin (and occasional viola) part was written out for him, usually by Kerry Livgren.
Steinhardt joined a re-formed White Clover in 1972, with the group adopting the Kansas name before their first album in 1974. He was with the group through their most successful period. In 1983, he did not show up to record the next Kansas album. His departure from the band after the Vinyl Confessions tour in 1982 was for personal reasons.
Subsequently, he fronted his own band, Steinhardt-Moon and was a member of the Stormbringer Band from 1990 to 1996, recording two CDs with the group during his membership. He also contributed to a Jethro Tull tribute album, To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales on Magna Carta Records.
Steinhardt rejoined Kansas in 1997. In early 2006, Steinhardt once again left Kansas by mutual agreement due to the pace of touring. Since he rejoined the band in 1997, they had averaged almost 100 shows per year. Steinhardt served as the MC for the band's concerts when he was a member, with his fellow band member Kerry Livgren describing his role as: "Robby had a unique function as a violinist, second vocalist, and MC in a live situation. Robby was the link between the band on the stage and the audience." Violinist David Ragsdale (Steinhardt's original replacement) quickly replaced him again.
In 2018 Steinhardt was asked by producer Michael T. Franklin to perform on the track "Activate" for Jon Anderson of Yes. The album 1000 Hands: Chapter One had a large cast of classic rock, world music, and jazz performers. In 2020, Steinhardt and Franklin began to work on a solo project, including an album and tour set for 2021.
Steinhardt died at a hospital in Tampa, Florida, from complications of acute pancreatitis on July 17, 2021, at the age of 71. Following his death, many luminaries from the world of music and other celebrities offered their condolences, including Shawn Drover, Todd Kerns, Eric Alper, Kevin J. Anderson, and Mike Portnoy.
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- "Robby Steinhardt, violinist and vocalist for Kansas, dies at 71". NBC News. Reuters. July 19, 2021. Archived from the original on July 24, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
- Drover, Shawn [@shawndrover] (July 19, 2021). "Absolutely horrible news hearing that Robbie Steinhardt from the band @KansasBand has passed away. I've been a massive fan for over 40 years so this is very sad news indeed #RIP #Kansas t.co/pOhhbBZQ6D" (Tweet). Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021 – via Twitter.
- Kerns, Todd [@todddammitkerns] (July 19, 2021). "Very sorry to hear of the passing of Robby Steinhardt, founding member of @KansasBand Had the good fortune to meet him several times. He was a great man. Thinking of his family t.co/i0VKa4QDPh" (Tweet). Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021 – via Twitter.
- Alper, Eric [@ThatEricAlper] (July 19, 2021). "Robby Steinhardt, a founding member, violinist and vocalist for Kansas, has died at age 71 from complications of acute pancreatitis. He was with the group from 1973 to 1982 and from 1997 to 2006, and will be missed. t.co/t3hphO7T9t" (Tweet). Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021 – via Twitter.
- Anderson, Kevin [@TheKJA] (July 19, 2021). "Big blow. Kansas was one of my major influences, and I saw them in concert many times. t.co/qptWkadxJ9" (Tweet). Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021 – via Twitter.