Joining the band Kansas in 1972, Steinhardt alternated between backup and lead singer, but his violin playing in the multi-platinum rock band helped distinguish it from other classic 70s groups.
The other band members included Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart, and Rich Williams, with Kerry Livgren joining them soon after Steinhardt did, as the principal songwriter.
Previously named White Clover, the band rose to popularity in 1976, producing everlasting songs like "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Point of Know Return." Steinhardt’s violin was a major part of their sound, especially for their hit "Dust in the Wind."
"'Dust' is a pleasure to play because the crowds get off on it so much," said Steinhardt in a 1982 interview for Music Magazine. "It helps me a whole lot in my performance. I need feedback from the crowd for me to perform to the best of my ability."
Steinhardt left the band in 1983 but returned to tour with them in 1997 up until 2006. He also formed the band Steinhardt-Moon and played with the group Stormbringer.
"We are beyond devastated as our lives were about to start a new adventure. Robby just recorded his first solo album with the talented music producer Michael Franklin at Solar Studios," wrote Steinhardt’s wife, Cindy. "A tour to start in August, Robby was so looking forward to being back on stage doing what he loved."
"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," reads the band’s Facebook post.
"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," they wrote. "We love him and will miss him always."
Our condolences to Mr. Steinhardt’s family, friends, and colleagues.