Do Classic Rock Fans Care About New Material?

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According to Kansas guitarist Rich Williams, “Only a handful of Kansas die-hards would be into new material by us. The bitter reality is that nobody cares if we come up with anything new. The days of the epic Kansas albums are probably over."

Granted, Williams’ comments focus mainly on his perception that most Kansas fans really don’t expect or want a new album, but he does mention a couple of other classic acts as well. “Does anyone care about a new Yes album or a new Genesis album?,” he asks.

Rich Williams of Kansas Well, I guess it may well depend on the energy and creativity that any given classic rock group has left in them. For Kansas, it seems that it’s over. Something that does not seem to bother Williams all that much. It would be interesting to hear how Chris Squire of Yes might react to that statement.

Speaking strictly for myself, I’d have to go along with Williams as far as Kansas is concerned, but I think he may be painting with too broad a brush if he thinks all classic rock acts are tapped out these days. Today’s Kansas is not the Kansas I remember. Gone are Kerry Livgren, Robby Steinhardt and Dave Hope who were – at the time – fully half of the group that we knew as Kansas. Livgren was a major creative force within the group at the time.

On the other hand, considering a group like Aerosmith or Rush, whose original lineup remains in place, I have to say that I do care about whether or not they continue to produce new music. Despite my suburban Boston upbringing, I was never a big Aerosmith fan, but as a longtime Rush fan, I eagerly look forward to every new album they begin working on. Myself, and many other fans believe that they still have what it takes.

Just yesterday we noted the chart-topping success of Bob Dylan’s latest album. I think that pretty well proves there are a lot of fans out there who want to see new material from their old favorites. Williams may be right about Kansas, but he’s straying a bit too far into fantasy land if he believes that most classic rock fans don’t give a hoot if they ever see another new album from their classic favorites.

The full story and all of Rich Williams comments can be seen at


  1. Andy May 7, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Wow… I would love to hear Chris Squire’s opinion on this matter. Th funny thing is that fans have been pestering the band fairly hard since their last release in 2001 called Magnification. Sure, they will never see the sales levels again of Fragile or 90125, but I don’t know if you can compare a band like Yes or even Genesis to Kansas. Let’s be honest, Yes is closer to Kansas in that regard, but if Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins would say to the boys, “lets do one”, people would by it.

    Oh, and may I suggest he Google an album called “Black Ice” to see if classic rock bands more recent releases still matter. Also see, “Snakes and Arrows” for further information.

    • Real Rock News May 7, 2009 at 12:18 pm

      Good points, Andy.

      I’m in agreement with Yes being closer to Kansas, and I love the “Black Ice” reference. Illustrates the point very well.

  2. Jeff May 8, 2009 at 6:59 am

    I have followed Kansas since the mid 70’s and I think their downfall started in 97. The early 90’s line up was great and energetic with a young guy Ragsdale on violin and Robert on keyboards that let Walsh be the front man who brought lots of life and fun to the show. Freaks of Nature album I think was one of their best. Then Ragsdale and Robert left bringing back Steinhardt which put Walsh back on the keyboard permanently. Steinhardt became the front man who wanted to play old 70’s violin oriented songs and they never played the newer 90’s material. The band instantly became 30 years old and lifeless.

  3. David August 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I agree with “most” of what Jeff is said. I’ve been a huge Kansas fan since the 70’s and have all their studio and live albums along with many of the compilations. The mid-90’s line-up which included Ragsdale and primary keyboardist Greg Roberts did put on some great shows. Ragsdale also played quite a bit of guitar. Together, Roberts and Ragdale covered many of the guitar and most all of the keyboard parts that Livgren once played.


    1) “Freaks of Nature” is probably the worst studio album they ever did and was certainly bested by “Somewhere to Elsewhere” which came out a few years later.
    2) Even with Roberts in the band, Walsh still played a considerable amount of keyboards especially when he wasn’t singing. I have vivid memories of those gigs and I remember Steve constantly running back and forth between the front of the stage and his keyboard rig throughout the show.
    3) When Steinhardt came back in the band, he replaced Ragsdale on violin. Why the band chose not to replace Roberts (or better yet Livgren) was not Robby’s decision. Obviously, they felt like they could get by with only one keyboardist, but they really needed a full-time keyboardist and a part-time keyboardist (Walsh). Nevertheless, this decision meant Walsh was the sole keyboardist and on most every song, but Dust In The Wind, he was stuck behind his keyboard rig.

    With the return of Robby, the band now had both of its original lead vocalists in the band. Thus, songs like “Miracles Out of Nowhere”, “Sparks of The Tempest”, “Sweet Child of Innocence”, would now sound like they did on the albums. And if you go back and watch live clips of the band from 1978 to 1980, you will see that Walsh and Steinhardt took turns being the front man. It only makes sense for Robby to be the front man on the songs he sings, and for Steve to be the front man on the songs he sings. In summary, the decision not to replace Greg Roberts on keyboards, was the reason why Walsh was stuck behind a keyboard rig 95% of the time. It had nothing to do with Robby.

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