Robby Steinhardt, the co-lead vocalist of Kansas whose violin playing helped give the band its distinctive sound, died Saturday from a combination of acute pancreatitis and sceptic shock, his wife, Cindy Steinhardt, said Monday. He was 71. Robby Steinhardt had been in a Tampa hospital since May 13, and he suffered a second, fatal sepsis infection July 17, a day before he was scheduled to be transferred to a rehab center, his wife said in a social media post.
"We are beyond devastated as our lives were about to start a new adventure," Cindy Steinhardt wrote. "Robby just recorded his first solo album," and with "a tour to start in August, Robby was so looking forward to being back on stage doing what he loved." The band Kansas also released a statement saying band members, "past and present, wish to express our deepest sorrow over the death of our bandmate and friend, Robby Steinhardt. Robby will always be in our souls, in our minds, and in our music. ... We love him and will miss him always."
Steinhardt was born in Chicago in 1950 but grew in Lawrence, Kansas, Variety reports. He joked the Topeka progressive rock band White Clover in 1972, and the band soon became Kansas. Steinhardt shared lead and backup vocal duties with Steve Walsh, and the other core band members were drummer Phil Ehart, guitarists Rich Williams and Kerry Livgren, and bassist Dave Hope. The band hit mainstream success with their 1976 Leftoverture and its single "Carry on Wayward Son." Their biggest hit, "Dust in the Wind," was from their follow-up 1977 album, Point of Know Return. Steinhardt played violin and sang harmony.
Steinhardt left Kansas in 1982, then rejoined the band from the late 1990s until 2006. He also played in the group Steinhardt Moon and Stormbringer.