Robert Eugene Steinhardt, better known as Robby Steinhardt, was an American rock violinist and vocalist best known for his work with Kansas, for whom he was co-lead singer/"frontman" and mc alongside keyboardist Steve Walsh, from 1973 till 1982, and again from 1997 to 2006. The only original members of the band who were not from Topeka were himself and Steve Walsh.
Robby began violin lessons at the age of eight and received classical training. When his family visited Europe, the young Steinhardt performed with several orchestras.
Joining a rock band, he believed, forced him to develop bad playing habits, one of which is putting his violin to the side of his head to hear himself better through the guitar amps and PA system.
The violin tone of Steinhardt, as well as his interplay with the guitar and keyboards, contributed to establish the Kansas sound. His lead vocals were a nice contrast to vocalist Steve Walsh's high tenor. Steinhardt performed in the lower register, and the two frequently sang in harmony. He has stated that the violin (and occasionally viola) part was written out for him, generally by Kerry Livgren, unless he has a composition credit on a song (his credits include around a half dozen songs).
In 1972, Steinhardt rejoined a reformed White Clover, which changed their name to Kansas before releasing their debut album in 1974. He didn't show up to record the following Kansas album in 1983. After the Vinyl Confessions tour in 1982, he left the band for personal reasons. In the meanwhile, he headed his own band, Steinhardt-Moon, and was a member of the Stormbringer Band from 1990 until 1996, recording two albums with them. On Magna Carta Records, he also contributed to a Jethro Tull tribute album, 'To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales.'
Steinhardt departed Kansas by mutual consent in early 2006 owing to the pace of travelling. The band has averaged over 100 performances per year since Steinhardt rejoined the band in 1997.
Steinhardt died on July 17, 2021, at the age of 71, from complications of severe pancreatitis. He is survived by his wife Cindy and daughter Becky.