Imagine you’re 14 in 1976 when the groups now called “classic rock” are making the classics that gave them the title. You live for progressive (or prog) rock groups like Kansas, Rush and Yes. By 17, you’re already singing in cover bands that perform songs by Kansas.
Decades later, you’re tapped to replace Steve Walsh, the original lead singer on the Kansas staples “Carry on Wayward Son” and “What’s On Your Mind” that merged with your DNA 40 years ago. You’re going on tour to sing every song on the “Leftoverture” album that turned you on in America’s Bicentennial year.
That’s Ronnie Platt’s story.
Platt, 54, is the new lead singer for Kansas, and he’s already at the pinnacle of two Kansas milestones: he’s fronting the band’s Leftoverture 40th Anniversary Tour Saturday at Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Platt also sings lead and co-wrote songs for the first Kansas studio album in 16 years, “The Prelude Implicit.”
I can’t tell you where the last two years have gone. Never mind the last few months rehearsing the show, working out parts, working on memorizing the lyrics for all the songs, incorporating in ‘Leftoverture.’ What a labor of love.
Ronnie Platt, the new lead singer of classic rock band Kansas.
The new album, highlighted by the melodic single, “With This Heart,” and the eight-minute prog rock throwback, “The Voyage of Eight Eighteen,” is a concerted effort to recapture the Kansas sound that put albums like “Leftoverture” and its 1977 follow-up, “Point of Know Return,” in millions of homes.
“I’ve got to hand it to [drummer] Phil Ehart and [guitarist] Rich Williams, going on their 44th year of doing this, and they still have a desire to want to do new music regardless of where it ends up,” Platt said. “It’s not like this band doesn’t have a big enough library of music.”
Platt is clearly jazzed to celebrate an album that turned 40 in October. “That was like the Paleozoic age or something,” he said.
“At that first rehearsal of ‘Dust in the Wind’ as lead singer of Kansas it was: ‘Pinch me. Am I here?’ It was a surreal experience,” he said. “You’re looking at who is standing next to you. There’s Rich Williams, one of the guitar players on ‘Dust in the Wind.’ To tell you the truth, I can’t think about that. If I think about that it makes me nervous.”
Kansas perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets: $40-$125. Ticketmaster.
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