Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Kansas

A few years ago, I worked for an engineering firm in Tampa, and one of my coworkers once told a funny story about having gone to a Kansas concert in his youth, upset that they did not play the rock songs from the 1970’s that he had gone to see but instead had gone Christian.  He was not a Christian.  For several years, I roomed with a married couple who have since moved back to Florida themselves, and fairly religiously they watched the television show Supernatural, which uses “Carry On Wayward Son,” Kansas’ biggest hit, as their theme song.  Both of these stories relate to the extent of influence that Kansas has had, as an artist whose Christian faith presents the voters of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with a thorny issue to deal with [1], given that their faith informed many of even their most popular songs before they were openly and avowedly Christians, and also that the influence of Kansas remains important in contemporary culture, long after their heyday.  With two songs that are part of the essential canon for 1970’s rock music, and a larger body of successful singles and albums outside of that, Kansas makes a strong case for induction, and its absence even from the controversy of being snubbed is admittedly a bit puzzling.

The Influence Of Kansas

The influence of Kansas is a multifaceted and often a subtle one.  On the one hand, their two most popular songs in particular have exhibited both a driving rock sound with a glorious guitar solo that encouraged other bands to attempt new levels of virtuosity themselves as well as an exploration of futility and vanity with beautiful acoustic and even orchestral touches.  Both of these songs, and others, have been covered by a diverse set of musicians in multiple genres as diverse as Dream Theater, the Foo Fighters, the Oak Ridge Boys, Sarah Brightman, the Scorpions, and jazz singer and former New York Yankees great Bernie Williams [2].  As has been mentioned previously, their biggest hit has served as the theme to the long-running show Supernatural, testament to the abiding connection between Kansas and matters of spiritual interest, whether Christian or otherwise.  Additionally, the band’s music has served as the inspiration for the name of the cartoon Opus.  That sort of broad influence suggests that Kansas’ music, even its more unfamiliar music, is worthy of recognition.

Why Kansas Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Aside from its influence, Kansas’ career and body of work merits induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  As far as their albums are concerned, the band has three multi-platinum albums, two platinum albums (including one live album), and four gold albums, including all of their albums released from 1974 to 1980.  They were less successful in terms of their singles, but as a rock band it was less important for them to have hit singles, and they still ended up with seven top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Carry On Wayward Son,” “Dust In The Wind,” “Point Of Know Return,” “People Of The South Wind,” “Hold On, ” “Play The Game Tonight,” and “All I Wanted”), an enviable body of work for any band [3].  Their live prowess, even when playing their more religiously inspired works, their studio brilliance and musical ambitions and their lasting cultural relevance and importance make them an important band more than forty years after their debut.

Why Kansas Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

There are no obvious reasons why Kansas isn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, although the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been slow in inducting essential acts from the 1970’s mainstream rock scene [4].  Given the fact that the band’s music is still viewed as a touchstone of classic rock from the 1970’s, the fact that they have not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is puzzling, although as more acts from the decade are inducted it is likely that their absence, if it continues, will become more noticeable as time passes.  The fact that their music was appealing both to fans as well as to critics suggests that they may not have as long to wait as others will, or at least we can hope so.

Verdict:  Put them in, at least the initial lineup of the band.  It is puzzling enough that Kansas has not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame given their larger cultural influence and the enduring nature of their music.  It is more puzzling that they are not considered among the biggest snubs, which is likely testament to just how many worthy acts have been snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and their lack of notoriety on the nostalgia tour circuit.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-the-doobie-brothers/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-pat-boone/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-amy-grant/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_(band)

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_discography

[4] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-foreigner/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-dan-fogelberg/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-yes/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-jim-croce/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-joe-cocker/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-journey/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-toto/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-the-alan-parsons-project/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-three-dog-night/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-badfinger/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-dire-straits/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-the-cars/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-gerry-rafferty/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-elo-jeff-lynne-traveling-wilburys/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-joy-division-new-order/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-sweet/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-kraftwer/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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