Classic rock fans probably remember Kansas for singles like "Carry On Wayward Son," "Point of Know Return," and "Dust In the Wind." But long before those days, the band's rotating lineup was steeped in progressive and classical experimentation, a la Yes and Genesis. Composer and guitarist Kerry Livgren was a main component from Kansas's very beginning, helping shape its sound and commercial breakthroughs. Right at fame's peak, Livgren turned over a new personal leaf, turning to Christianity after knocking on a bunch of dead end doors. He left Kansas a few years later to work on numerous projects including the group AD, solo CDs and even a one-off reunion record. His latest band Proto-Kaw actually links Livgren back with some alums from the pre-radio days of Kansas. Proto-Kaw's sophomore CD The Wait of Glory mixes progressive rock, jazz, and jam elements with spiritual songwriting. We recently caught up with Livgren for a telephone conversation from the studio.
You apparently explored various religions before coming to Christianity, right?
Kerry Livgren I was a classic religious seeker. When I was nine years old, my grandmother and my families' best friend died in the same week. When you see death on TV and in movies, it's not real, but then suddenly you're immersed in it and it leaves you reeling. It caused a change in nature where I knew I was going to live forever, and if I wasn't going to, I had to find out why I was here. With that awareness of my own finality, I began a quest.
In high school I was with a group of friends who were into music and the meaning of life. When I graduated, I was involved in every one of major world religions and minor ones, scraping the bottom of barrel to find one. I ended up a devotee of the ...1