Kansas vs. Journey

Submitted by rh

Check out the intro to Journey‘s 1976 track “I’m Gonna Leave You” next to Kansas‘ 1976 “Carry On Wayward Son”.

Journey - "I'm Gonna Leave You" (1976)

Kansas - "Carry on Wayward Son" (1976)

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13 Replies to “Kansas vs. Journey”

    1. Keith Post author

      According to Wikipedia the Kansas album was recorded “December 1975”. The entry for Journey simply says “1975”. Release dates are both ’76

      1. David Collins

        Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll add a bit more background to the story. This so-called controversy started when a tour manager for Journey (I think that was what he was) wrote a book several years ago. Since he wasn’t Neil Schon or Steve Perry, but a rather obscure figure in rock n’ roll, he needed to gin-up “a little so-called controversy” to help sell a rather lame book. He claims that Journey wrote their song first and had been performing it during a 1975 tour. He also claims (I didn’t take the time to verify it) that both bands had played a show together in 1975 (and hence Kansas heard Journey play the song during this tour.) As I said before, I’m not sure who wrote which song first, but let’s assume he is right and Journey wrote the song first. It is possible that Kansas might have been influenced by the song and not even realized it when they wrote the arrangement for Carry On Wayward Son. I use the word arrangement, because it isn’t really a key part of the song. It is just one of several parts in a rather long, multi-part intro to “Carry On”. Other than a brief reprise of the intro toward the end of the song, the riff in question isn’t heard anywhere else in the song and the riff in question isn’t a key part of the actual song itself. Although Journey’s tour manager tried to make a big deal with his ridiculous claim that “Kansas stole Carry On from Journey”, I don’t really see the controversy. In my opinion, it was just a lame attempt to sell more books. The truth is rock bands have nick’ed riffs and part of riffs from other bands and John Lennon even admitted to doing this. However, unless the riff in question is a significant part of the song, it’s no big deal. Otherwise, I’m sure Journey would have filed a lawsuit. They didn’t sue because they knew they had no chance of winning such a lawsuit.

        As I mentioned in a post that I submitted earlier, the copyright controversy surrounding the acoustic guitar riff in “Stairway to Heaven” was much more obvious, That particular riff a more significant part of that song (and wasn’t confined to just the intro). Nevertheless, the lawsuit against Led Zeppelin failed in Federal court. The case was appealed to the Ninth Court of Appeals where it failed again. The case was even brought to the attention of the Supreme Court and they ruled in favor of the Ninth Court of Appeals, thus ending any chance the lawsuit might have had

  1. hojo

    The one that burns me is John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change. Complete rip off of Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready.

  2. Maurice

    According to the liner notes to the compilation cd Time3 of Journey they were first. Kansas were touring with them at the time and heard them play this song every night, so they decided to “borrow” the riff. Could make sense. Any way, this riff produced two excellent songs!

  3. Straitjacket Jimmy

    Let’s see…Journey’s album released in JANUARY 1976. Kansas released in DECEMBER 1976. This is a no-brainer! Kansas completely and totally ripped that one off. Then again, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Journey’s album was recorded in late ’75, and Kansas’ not until mid ’76, several months after the release of Look Into The Future.

    1. Rick Beacham

      On the contrary the Kansas LP was actually recorded in Dec.1975 at the home studio of Kerry Livgren. Besides it seems the whole Journey song is about the ” Riff” in question while the Kansas song only uses it sparingly. The Kansas song is more refined anyway also got more airplay as well. Besides it wasn’t until Journey hired Steve Perry (Who wrote or co-wrote most of their hits) that they became popular.

  4. Straitjacket Jimmy

    The Leftoverture album was recorded in the summer of ’76. Writing didn’t even begin until the late Spring of that year, after Kansas and Journey had toured together (imagine that) behind Kansas’ 1975 album Masque (released in September of that year) and Journey’s album Look Into The Future. It’s quite obvious where Kansas got what you call a “riff”. That being said, it’s much more than a “riff”, though as obviously not a musician you don’t know about that. And for “refined”, you seem to mean lyrics/vocals. That doesn’t make a song “refined”. And yes, the addition of Perry and the move to pop rock gained success, and with Cain’s writing became superstars, but that is irrelevant in this discussion.

  5. Keith

    Using a one-riff comparison to rip an entire song or number shows how little we know about what goes on in the music industry. Kansas was about to be dropped by the Kirshner label (after three totally original releases) for failing to chart on Billboard.

    Seven out of eight tracks (totally original) were already recorded. One more song was needed to fill the eight-number requirement LP vynil. Kerry had all of the creative pressure on him, since Steve wasn’t able to churn out lyrics.

    Finally (In Bogaloosa, LA) The band turned to Kerry and said,”What do you have?”. Kerry pulled out this one song, origionally to stick at the end, and the band loved it. It became the lead track. In those days, label pressure on talent was extream. You don’t want to know!

    What most people don’t realize is that many of the production staff are former musicians and song writers. Even “The Doors ‘Light My Fire'” was not written entirely by the band. A producer, who was a former musician, wrote the opening movement for Ray.

    I have heard both “Carry On…” and “I’m Gonna Leave You.” Both riffs were similar variants, but NOT exact copies! I used to hear “April Wine” get ripped for “I Like To Rock” for copying both a “Beatles” and a “Rolling Stones” riff at the end of that song. All they were doing was paying respect to their idols.

  6. eduloops

    “Carry on my wayward son For there’ll be peace when you are done” That reminds me of a soldier going to war. Thats what I think this song is about.


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