from St. Joseph, MO
June 15, 1951 (age 71)
As the vocalist for Kansas, Steve Walsh's strong and certain delivery made "Carry on Wayward Son," "Dust in the Wind," and "Point of Know Return" radio staples of the '70s. He also fronted the short-lived Streets and sporadically issued solo albums, one of which has landed on numerous "worst album cover" lists. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Walsh's family moved to Kansas when he was 12. Records by Vanilla Fudge, the Yardbirds, the Seeds, and Iron Butterfly were teenage favorites and influenced Walsh to try his own had at rock & roll. He could sing, but he was most interested in the piano and keyboards. He answered a "keyboardist wanted" ad in the newspaper from the Topeka-based band Clover, but was soon doing double duty as their main vocalist. In 1972, Clover changed their name to Kansas. Two years later their combination of boogie and prog rock got them signed to Don Kirshner's label. Two years of touring and two mediocre-selling albums were behind them when 1976's Leftoverture and its single, "Carry on Wayward Son," made the band stars. They remained successful for the next four years, but they were slowly splintering. Walsh issued his solo album Schemer-Dreamer in 1980, and while it didn't make an impression musically, the cover's ridiculous, over-the-top combination of California machismo and running-shorts worship made it a camp classic for rock historians. Kansas issued Audio-Visions the same year. It flopped and a year later, Walsh left the band to form the straight-ahead rock group Streets. Streets made the Top Ten in 1983 with "If Love Should Go," but their two albums didn't do well. Streets dissolved in 1985 and a year later, Walsh was back in the re-formed Kansas, now augmented by famed guitarist Steve Morse. The band had a hit that year with Walsh's ballad "All I Wanted," and while subsequent albums and singles failed to chart, the band was successful on the numerous summer tours it undertook during the late '90s and early 2000s. Walsh issued his second solo album, the sprawling Glossolalia, in 2000 on the Magna Carta label. Five years later, he returned with Shadowman on the Bayside-associated label 33rd Street. In 2014, after 41 years, Walsh announced that he would be retiring from Kansas. His final performance with the group took place on August 16, 2014 in Sioux City, Iowa, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. In 2017, Walsh released his fourth solo LP, Black Butterfly. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi
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Steve Walsh - "Carry on Wayward Son" @ Seminole Casino Hotel, Immokalee, FL February 20, 2016
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