How The Monkees and Kansas Were Secretly Connected
via The Monkees/YouTube
Several bands were influenced by certain classic rock legends. For instance, Kansas‘ “Carry On Wayward Son” became popular thanks to the music supervisor from The Monkees. Why that was so unexpected was stated by a member of Kansas.
The Monkees’ Supervisor Worked With Kansas Before ‘Carry on Wayward Son’
The music supervisor for The Monkees was Don Kirshner. Moving away from the bubblegum pop genre, he eventually worked with the band Kansas. Subsequently, he assisted in the formation of The Archies, a group of studio musicians best remembered for the 1969 song “Sugar, Sugar.”
Phil Ehart of Kansas was questioned by Billboard in 2023 about whether Kirshner was an unusual supporter of his group. He said:
“We never had another offer; nobody showed any interest except him. We could never figure out what he saw in us, a bunch of long-haired guys in jeans, cowboy boots and overalls from Topeka, Kansas.”
A Member of Kansas Said the Monkees’ Supervisor ‘Made It Happen’ for Kansas
What Ehart believed about Kirshner was made public. Ehart said:
“To this day, we still scratch our heads and go, ‘Wow. Whatever he saw in us, he definitely delivered.’
“He made it happen. He put his money where his mouth was and let us make very good albums, and they weren’t cheap. He gave us tour support. And of course he recouped, but the point is he believed in us and was willing to invest in these young guys. Man, we owe that guy a lot.”
Richard Williams from Kansas said that Kirshner awaited Kansas’s establishment of a fanbase. Kirshner remained persistent, but “by the third album [Masque], there was a little more pressure; the feeling was that it was time to deliver,” he remarked. “But that would never happen today, being given all that money to record three, four albums in hopes of something coming out of us. Donnie was patient with us, and Leftoverture exploded.” Notably, Leftoverture featured the band’s first big hit: “Carry On Wayward Son.”
How ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ and Its Parent Album Performed in the United States
The song “Carry On Wayward Son” spent 20 weeks at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. With the exception of “Dust in the Wind,” which peaked at No. 6 and spent 20 weeks on the chart, it was the band’s biggest success in the United States.
On the album Leftoverture, “Carry On Wayward Son” was included. It spent a total of 42 weeks at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 list with that song. It was only surpassed in Kansas’ discography by Point of Know Return, which peaked at No. 4 and spent 51 weeks on the list. Point of Know Return, in particular, has “Dust in the Wind.”
Without Kirshner’s assistance, Kansas would not have produced some of the most well-known rock tunes of the 1970s.