Whether or not you’re a fan of their unique brand of turgid hardboogie-prog, this recently uploaded video of Kansas performing their signature hit “Carry On Wayward Son” in 1978 at the Canada Jam is, to say the least, energetic.
Perhaps it’s unfair to make speculations about ‘70s rock band members cocaine habits—to firstly assume they are on the drug—and to further assume Scarface office desk levels of the white stuff being inhaled before the show, but holy shit THIS VIDEO. The band, or at least singer Steve Walsh, appear to have had some degree of chemical enhancement working in their favor.
A few online sources mention that years later, in the ‘90s, Walsh was supposedly arrested for possession and threatened with jail time. We also know from this 700 Club interview that guitarist Kerry Livgren and bassist Dave Hope were seriously addicted until they “found God.” In that particular interview, Hope admits to having spent $40,000 (in 1980 dollars!) on cocaine the year before his Christian rebirth. We can only guess what the differences would be between Dave Hope’s and Steve Walsh’s level of commitment to the white lady, but this performance seems to indicate Walsh was in imminent danger of flying off the stage and into the stratosphere at any second.
Me personally, I think “Carry on Wayward Son” is a killer ‘70s jam. It’s not even a “guilty” pleasure—and I don’t really care what was getting them through the show—to me, this totally rules. Your mileage may vary. If Kansas’ brand of arena rock is not exactly your cup of tea, you might just want to watch a guy completely out of his mind, going absolutely apeshit on what is probably a mountain of blow. In that case, proceed directly to 1:46 and 3:39 in this over-the-top performance.
There ain’t no dust in the wind here.