''We were dropped like a hot potato, man'': MeTV sits down with KANSAS bassist Billy Greer, part 2

The grunge scene nearly killed KANSAS, but devoted fans kept them going through the lean times.

Photo courtesy of David Carstens

As America's preeminent progressive rock band embarks on its 50 landmark performances, MeTV had the privilege to interview KANSAS' Billy Greer and Rich Williams, bassist and guitar player, respectively. The "Another Fork in the Road" Tour celebrates 50 incredible years of indelible music, highlighting crowd favorites like "Carry On, Wayward Son," and "Dust in the Wind."

Billy Greer has been the bassist for KANSAS since 1985. Prior to the tour's stop at the Chicago Theater, Billy answered our questions about his favorite stops around the United States.

Atlanta’s been an important home base. Are any restaurants in Atlanta must-visit for you to this day?

Well, they’ve all closed. It’s been- I lived there for about 15 years and there was some great food-- cheap places, really nice places to play. Fat Matt’s Rib Shack is a good place to go, they have blues and they have barbecue, so I can recommend that, I think it’s still around.

There are just so many good places that I used to eat that have closed now.

It’s a shame, I feel the same way, every place that I’ve loved… it’s not there anymore!

Yeah, it’s sad. But, I live in Savannah now. So, I’m in a good restaurant city, if you will. There are so many good restaurants.

Got a nice front porch down there in Savannah, Billy?

I do! I’m overlooking a house that was built in 1780, I think, that’s now a museum. I’m in the Historical District of Savannah. Have you ever been to Savannah?

No, I haven’t been lucky enough yet.

It’s like stuck in time. It was a planned community, planned by John Oglethorpe– and it’s a planned community, laid out in a checkerboard style with squares and parks and everything, it’s just a beautiful city. And it was spared during the Civil war, it wasn’t burned to the ground like Atlanta was. It maintains all its old, original architecture from the 1700s, so it’s so cool.

My house that I’m living in now, actually, is one of three row houses. It was built in 1894, I think it was. Obviously, it’s been refurbished a few times. So it’s an old house– nice though. Right in the middle of the historical district. There’s carriages that go by with guided tours every now and then, bus load of people that come to the city… It’s really a big tourist town, but there’s some great food.

I’ll have to add it to my list. I wanted to ask you, what’s your favorite city to have some downtime in, when you’re touring?

Let me think about that for a second… Seattle’s nice. My sister has a couple of sisters out there, so it’s nice having some family that can actually take you to places that you might not otherwise know about. Every time I go out one of my sisters-in-law will take me to a wine tasting at some vineyards or something like that. What a beautiful city it is, too. I love Seattle.

Absolutely, and it’s good to have a tour guide. Are the Seattle fans particularly raucous at a KANSAS show?

They’re pretty spoiled up there. We’ve done well up there over the years. We have such a great base of fans. It really warms the heart knowing we have so many people that have stuck with us through the lean times into the good times, and still remain there today. That’s why we’re doing a 50th Anniversary Tour. We’re still able to go out and play and make a living. And the fans still come, so it’s a blessing.

Billy, I’m surprised to hear you say you like Seattle as much as you do. In my research, I was reading about how when the album “In the Spirit of Things” came out, that Seattle sound kept it from getting a lot of the commercial play it would’ve gotten otherwise.

It did more than kept it-- it killed it! The grunge scene came on with Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots and all those other bands out of the Seattle area, and we were dropped like a hot potato, man. The record company dropped us and the promoter said “We’re sorry, we can’t book you anymore.” Our manager quit– he actually went to a much better job, though. He started working for Oliver Stone as his musical director. So we couldn’t actually hold any grudges against Bud for doing that! Phil took over as our manager.

I was just looking over pictures someone sent me from 1993, and we were playing in, I think, Rochester, New York, because we’re in front of the Kodak Building. 1993, and it just took me back– I had a flashback to those times when we would go out for five or six weeks at a time, traveling around on a little bus, pulling our equipment in a trailer. It was a tough life, staying in cheaper hotels, and not making a lot of money. But we were still making music, and we still had fans who would come see us play.

So, regardless of what was going on nationally, or what the trend was, we’ve had that good base of fans that would support us, and come out to see the band.

Whereas a lot of people who were grunge fans… Those bands aren’t still standing! It’s remarkable to see KANSAS weather has many storms as KANSAS has, and you still put on great shows. Whereas… Where are those grunge bands, you know?

Dave’s still around. Dave Grohl. We ran into those guys in Salt Lake City in one of those SkyClubs there. I guess we both fly Delta a lot. But, we were traveling and just happened to end up in the same SkyClub there. We were talking to those guys.

My son went to see them at one of the– Bonnaroo Festival, I think it was? He was so excited to tell me that during their set, they did “Carry On, Wayward Son,” or part of it.

No kidding!

They were playing around with a couple different things. “Stairway to Heaven,” they played a snippet, of this and that… Of other popular songs. Then Dave [Grohl] says “We’re no effing cover band! But if we were, this is what we’d play!” and then they go into “Carry On..” with the [hums guitar riff].

So I guess he must’ve been a fan or he likes that particular song or something.

Stay tuned for the continuation of MeTV's interviews as KANSAS looks back on 50 years of the band.

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17 Comments

Moverfan 9 months ago
I think I missed something...or they left something out. Your sister has a couple of sisters in the Seattle area? Wouldn't they be your sisters too?
oneofthesedays1 9 months ago
Sorry so many of the comments did not like these interviews. Honestly, I enjoy questions about things going on in Billy's life now.
With the internet today, I can find countless stories on the history of the band, how much money they made, or even the trouble they had.
Few want to report the simple side of life of these great band members still around. Nice to know he has a hometown life just like me.
Love the band, was a big part of my high school years in the 70's, and still love them after Billy joined them.

Do not get to concerts now, but still play Kansas albums and cd's, even some online mixes.

Thanks Metv for the articles, count me in for the rest of them. Hopefully the complainers will just not show up.
dazeofwine 9 months ago
Cool to read that interview. Classic rock will always be my favorite but there was still some good grunge stuff too. I enjoyed hearing about his perspective on things. I think Kansas is doing a double bill with another classic rock band coming soon to Atlanta. I'm definitely going to try and make it.
LalaLucy 9 months ago
Kansas is one of the best bands my mom ever introduced me to growing up. The talent they have is incredible. Another one sadly snubbed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...
hyppymom 9 months ago
I LOVE Kansas! Always have, always will. Unfortunately the one time I got to see them live was at the State Fair in Pueblo, Colorado and we walked out because the venue staff wouldn't let anyone STAND UP!!! Every time we stood up and started enjoying the band someone would come and tell us to sit down. The front 15 rows were not allowed to stand and have fun like a normal concert. I guess they thought the audience was too old to stand and appreciate the music. We left before we got kicked out. We were furious! Ruined my night. The next night's concert was the last one I ever attended at the Colorado State Fair grounds.
The next night was Ted Nugent, worked by the same staff from the night before. We made sure they saw us standing. They couldn't stop us that night.
Really wish I could have one more chance to see Kansas!
Bapa1 9 months ago
Well, I've been to Savannah, and it's very nice.
Percy1469 9 months ago
KANSAS CONCERTS ARE BETTER THAN EVER THESE DAYS.
hyppymom Percy1469 9 months ago
I'd love to see them again. Read my comment above about my only experience seeing Kansas.
harlow1313 9 months ago
Note that I am not complaining.

When I see an article like this, I think advertising. I think money has changed hands. We readers on this site are in the target age group for a Kansas tour.

Again, I don't mind.
MrsPhilHarris harlow1313 9 months ago
I didn’t even read it. I came for the comments.
tmac1951 MrsPhilHarris 9 months ago
You didn’t miss anything, most of it had to do with restaurants and where he liked to go.
tmac1951 MrsPhilHarris 9 months ago
I didn’t see anything about hot potatoes, I like sour cream and butter.
McGillahooala 9 months ago
Looking at the comments here, I wonder if Kansas is still standing.
tmac1951 McGillahooala 9 months ago
METV is going in different directions lately. Has METV sat down with anyone before??????
tmac1951 McGillahooala 9 months ago
Part one had 8 comments.
tmac1951 tmac1951 9 months ago
This one has 4 comments, not a popular article ME thinks, maybe METV is going to drop the E
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