Robby Steinhardt, a founding member, violinist and vocalist for Kansas, has died at age 71 following a brief illness, according to a statement released by his family.

"Robert Eugene Steinhardt was well recognized as a founding member and original violinist and vocalist for the rock band Kansas," reads the statement. "His violin and vocals on 'Dust in the Wind,' 'Point of No Return' and 'Carry on Wayward Son' have etched Robby a solid place in rock history."

Steinhardt was originally a member of another Topeka-based progressive rock band called White Clover, which eventually morphed into the first Kansas lineup in 1973. That original group also included Steve Walsh, Rich Williams and Kerry Livgren, who were all on board for Kansas' 1974 self-titled debut album. In 1982, Steinhardt left the band and formed Steinhardt-Moon in Florida, before rejoining Kansas in 1997. After nearly another decade of touring and emcee duties, Steinhardt retired from the band in 2006 but didn't quit music altogether. At the time of his death, he was working on a solo record.

"Robby had been recording his new album with producer Michael Franklin, who put together an all-star cast of famous musicians in support of Robby’s comeback," his family's statement continued. "Steinhardt was very proud of this project, slated for release in late 2021. He had begun rehearsals for a national tour when he became ill."

Steinhardt had a heart attack in 2013 but had appeared to have recovered. "He will be deeply missed by all he knew and his music will last forever," his family concluded. "A memorial will be announced in the future."

In Memoriam: 2021 Deaths

Remembering the musicians, actors, producers and others who have died in 2021.