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Interview:
Kansas celebrates 35 years since "fluke" hit
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

For the band Kansas, being around 30 years means having plenty of career anniversaries to pay attention to. "There's something about the 5's and zeroes that seem to be memorable," notes guitarist and co-founder Richard Williams.

This year's celebration is the 35th year since "Point of Know Return," the four-times platinum album that gave the group its highest chart position -- No. 4 on the Billboard 200 -- and it's biggest hit single in "Dust in the Wind," which reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. A special "Dust in the Wind" CD and book is due out soon, and Williams says Kansas is retooling its web site to reflect the anniversary and will be adding more "Point..." material to its set lists.

"I remember doing 'Dust in the Wind'...we weren't apprehensive, but we were wondering 'How's this going to be received' because it was just acoustic guitar, violin and voice," says Williams, 62. "We were always outside of the box, but this was outside of the box for us.

"What's funny is that, in retrospect, we took a lot of heat for 'selling out.' What about 'Dust in the Wind' was mimicking anything to do with the mainstream? That was an absolute fluke that it was a hit. We had no idea it was going to be talked about 35 years later. It was only a hit because it...was a great song. Even a blind pig finds a truffle once in awhile."

These days Kansas -- which also includes original singer-keyboardist Steve Walsh and drummer Phil Ehart -- plays a mix of standard concerts and symphonic shows with university orchestras. But Williams says one thing that's unlikely is a full-scale performance of "Point...," or any of the group's other 14 albums, in their entirety.

"It's been talked about," Williams says. "We did some shows with Jethro Tull last year and they were doing 'Aqualung.' I thought it was a great concept. There's something really cool about it.

"With us, there's three owners. I'm all for it. Of the other two primaries, one (Ehart) is kind of a maybe, the other (Walsh) is, 'No f***in' way!' For a singer, sometimes they feel like, 'I can't sing this lyric anymore, 'cause I don't believe in it.' Well, OK...So it's not in the plans, I'm afraid."

Kansas performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, 7096 E. Fourteen Mile Road, Warren. Tickets are $25-$69. Call 586-268-3200 or visit www.andiamoshowroom.com.

Web Site: www.andiamoshowroom.com

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