Livgren was born in Topeka, Kansas the first son in a family
of six. Drawn to music at a young age, his first musical interests
developed with classical and jazz influences while his peers
were embracing Elvis Presley. Starting with an electric guitar
he built himself, Kerry focused on writing songs as he learned
to play -- seeking to create songs that if nothing else, were
first band was the Gimlets, which he formed with several
close friends in high school. After school and on weekends,
they soon found themselves booked throughout Kansas and
neighboring Missouri. Kerry's involvement with the band
continued through college, before joining the Mellotones,
a mainstream rhythm and blues band. Driven by a desire
for more creative expression, Kerry formed Saratoga, who
played for audience members around the area, including
a young drummer named Phil Ehart and a bass player, Dave
they formed the group, Kansas, combining the best members
from their respective bands. Known for their sometimes
bizarre originality, the band went through several iterations
before becoming the six-member group signed by Don Kirshner
Kerry remained with the
band for 13 years as the band's primary song writer, lead
guitarist and keyboard player. Penning such hits as "Carry
On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind,"
Kerry propelled the band to worldwide success and critical
acclaim, with numerous gold and multi-platinum albums.
1980 Kerry Livgren released his first solo work, Seeds
of Change, featuring vocalists Ronnie James Dio and David
Pack of Ambrosia, drummer Barriemore Barlow, and guest
spots by friends from Kansas. Also accompanying the album
was Kerry's book of the same name. Together, they expressed
the passage and resolution of Kerry's spiritual journey,
often the subject of his songs with Kansas.
his departure from Kansas in 1983, Kerry recorded his
second self-produced album for CBS, Timeline, in the same
year. With the musicians involved in that project, he
formed the band, AD. Between 1983 and 1986, the band released
two albums and toured extensively.
Kerry next signed with Sparrow records and released Prime
Mover in 1988, followed by his first instrumental work,
One of Several Possible Musiks in 1989. Exploring a new
musical direction, this confluence of orchestral and rock
styles received the Dove Award for Instrumental Album
of the Year.
concluded this period with his final album for Sparrow. Decade
was a double CD retrospective marking ten years since his first
solo recording. Featuring two complete albums, excerpts from
others and previously unreleased songs, the set continues to
be highly regarded among enthusiasts of his music.
Kerry moved from Atlanta back to his home town of Topeka
Kansas. Once there, he initiated his production companies,
Grandyzine, and record company, Numavox Records. As part
of this work, he constructed a state-of-the-art recording
and production facility on his farm, in the frame of a restored
barn. This studio would serve as the nexus of his and many
other musician's work through the present day.
I dearly love Georgia, it was great to be back in Kansas
(the state) again. I immediately felt at home. There's something
about returning to your roots that's inspiring." Composed
over the period of two years, Kerry's next album clearly
expressed this sentiment as one his most celebrated. Entitled "When
Things Get Electric," this 1995 release was also the
debut album for Kerry's new label.
the next several years, Mr. Livgren worked on recording
projects with other artists, before returning to solo
work in 1997. That year saw the release of his first soundtrack,
for the third SONY's Mind's Eye computer animation feature,
comprising the work of more than 100 computer artists.
released Prime Mover II in the spring of 1998, a complete
re-recording of Livgren's original 1988 album (Sparrow),
plus five new tracks featuring the single "Incantos",
which he described as another completely new direction,
and one of his most inspired lyrics. The CD also features
his first re-recording of a Kansas song. ("Fair Exchange"
from Vinyl Confessions.)
CD was the solo effort, Collector's Sedition Volume One, on
Numavox. It featured the talents of several vocalists, including
Kerry's nephew, Jake Livgren. "Jake began singing with
me on a family trip to Georgia in 1992," Kerry says. "We
were just goofing around in the studio but I quickly realized
he had serious potential and lacked only experience. Over time
my instincts have proven to be correct."
The new millennium saw the reunion of Kansas for the much anticipated release, Somewhere to Elsewhere. For this album, Kerry Livgren returned to his traditional role as the group's songwriter, lead guitarist and keyboardist. Recorded at the Numavox Studio, Kerry also produced the album. Many longtime fans feel it to be among the band's very best.
on the heels of the Kansas release, Kerry began work
on The Best of Kerry Livgren, an album celebrating
20 years since his first solo album. Both retrospective
and forward-looking, it contains tracks from all his
solo releases and those with the band, AD. There are
also 2 brand new songs and new recordings of 4 others.
Each of these new versions features the original vocalists,
including Warren Ham, Michael Gleason and Ronnie James
is now working on the most ambitious work of his career,
entitled "Cantata: The Resurrection Lazarus." An
epic, orchestral and vocal composition, it has been
under development for almost 20 years. The piece features
a large ensemble cast, including Matthew Ward, Phil
Keaggy, David Pack and Kansas drummer Phil Ehart. Its
scheduled release is late 2002.
Kerry Livgren is known for his music, he will quickly
point out that it is only one of his many pursuits. "I'm
a family man, I have a role in my church, I'm running
a record label, a studio, a production company, a farm,
and I have more hobbies and interests than there are
hours in the day."
while Kerry may have just completed his best-of, the
greatest is yet to come.