Carrying on: For Kansas, there’s no place like the road

Richard Williams has a long day ahead of him.

The guitarist and his popular classic rock band Kansas recently flew in to Lexington, Ky., the night before and he had already been awake doing interviews the last couple of hours. Later, he would take a walk to stretch his legs and iron his shirt before heading to sound check at 5 p.m. Dinner and fan meet and greets would follow before the seven musicians would take the stage around 8 p.m.

Yet, the original “Carry On Wayward Son” guitarist sounded completely energized during his last phone interview of the morning, with The Blade.

“The last three years this band has been thriving,” the 67-year-old said. “I’ve played more in the last three years than I have maybe ever.”

If You Go:

What: Kansas

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.

Cost: $40 to $95

The classic rock band will perform a two-and-a-half hour-long set in Toledo on Saturday at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.

Among the band’s biggest hits are “Dust in the Wind” and “Carry On Wayward Son,” both of which have become staples of classic rock radio. 

That latter is a million-selling gold single from the band’s Leftoverture album, which will be performed in its entirety on Saturday.

Williams, who was 26 when Leftoverture was released 41 years ago, said the band has always included bits and pieces of the album in its sets over the years, but many were never played; he mentioned “Questions of My Childhood” specifically.

“I don’t go home and listen to Kansas albums,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time I listened to [Leftoverture] front to back. It’s been decades. Relearning it, you have to relearn this and relearn that song bit by bit. Until we started playing it I haven’t heard [the album] in that order in a really long time.

“You start recalling some different moments in the studio or in the rehearsal period when we were learning it,” he said. “I remember the first parts of the first tour and the excitement of the album climbing the charts. But the work is all similar; you go on the road, you tour, and you play songs.”


Members of the classic rock band Kansas, which will play a show Saturday at the Stranahan Theater. From left to right are Richard Williams, Billy Greer, Zak Rizvi, Phil Ehart, Ronnie Platt, David Manion, and David Ragsdale.


Michie Turpin

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Although the work is similar to Williams, bringing Leftoverture back to life is done so with a new band.

Williams and drummer Phil Ehart are the only original members on the stage in Toledo. Ronnie Platt has vocal duties these days after stepping in for original vocalist Steve Walsh who retired in 2014.

Last year the band released its newest album, The Prelude Implicit, its first in 16 years.

“When Steve suddenly decided to retire it changed us a lot,” Williams said. “You hate to see people go. Change is always difficult, and the most natural thing in anyone’s life is change, yet it’s the thing we fight more than anything. Phil [Ehart] and I have been through a lot of change in our history and our lives, and you just take the next step forward. There’s no thought of stopping. So what did we do? We got a plan together and were back on the road.”

The new members have added a fresh energy to the band.

“Ronnie [Platt] will sing anything in the catalog, and he’s up for it all,” he said. “It’s very refreshing. [It reminds me] of what it was like being in this band in the early days [when] everybody is good to be here, loves the work, wants to play long sets, and wants to play everything in the catalog. They want to be creative, want to record again, and keep going. It’s a very healthy band right now, and it’s really loving what we’re doing.”

While Williams spoke to The Blade about a week after Stephen Paddock opened fire from a hotel room and killed 59 people at a country concert in Las Vegas, he seemed optimistic about his life going forward as a musician who performs on a regular basis in front of thousands of people.

“The world has changed since we first started this, and you just have to adapt and roll with the punches and keep moving forward,” he said. “I can’t live hiding in my home with the doors locked, peeking out the window with a pistol in my hand, either. I’m a guitar player; that’s what I do. I’d be miserable if I didn’t, so I will just continue doing that.”

Contact Geoff Burns at gburns@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.



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