Robert “Robby” Steinhardt, violinist and co-lead vocalist for Kansas, died on July 17, due to complications from acute pancreatitis. He was 71.
On May 13, Steinhardt was admitted to Tampa General Hospital with a bout of pancreatitis, then went into septic shock later that evening and was placed on life support. On July 17, Steinhardt was scheduled to be released from medical care and transferred to a rehab center when he suffered another bout with sepsis and died.
Steinhardt’s wife Cindy confirmed his death on Facebook on July 19. “We are beyond devastated as our lives were about to start a new adventure,” she shared in the post. “Robby just recorded his first solo album with the talented music producer Michael Franklin at Solar Studios. A tour to start in August, Robby was so looking forward to being back on stage doing what he loved. I’ve always tried to share our lives with you but I ask you to please respect this heavy time of grief.”
In a separate post, the members of Kansas also issued a statement on the passing of Steinhardt:
“The members of the band Kansas, 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. What 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 miss him always.”
Born Robert E. Steinhardt in Chicago on May 25, 1950, Steinhardt was raised in Lawrence, Kansas with his adoptive parents and studied classical violin throughout his youth. By 1972, Steinhardt joined a Topeka band called White Clover, which later became Kansas, along with Steve Walsh, Rich Williams, Phil Ehart, and Kerry Livgren, who later became the band’s chief songwriter. Steinhardt shared vocal duties with Walsh, often switching on and off from backing to lead in songs, but always returning to his violin.
By 1974, Kansas had reached international success with their 1974 self titled debut, releasing the hit single “Carry on Wayward Son.” Additionally, Steinhardt sang two tracks on the album “Cheyenne Anthem” and “Miracles Out of Nowhere.” In 1982, Steinhardt left Kansas to pursue Steinhardt-Moon with Rick Moon and other projects throughout his career, before rejoining the Kansas in the late ’90s and leaving again in 2006.
In 2018, Steinhardt began working on the track “Activate” for Yes singer Jon Anderson with producer Michael T Franklin. He continued working with Franklin on a solo project in 2020 and was set to release the album in 2021 with a tour to follow.
Steindhardt is survived by his wife Cindy and daughter Becky.