In a dream-come-true scenario similar to the movie "Rock Star," suburban classic rock cover band singer Ronnie Platt, of Lombard, has been tapped to be the new lead singer of the legendary band Kansas.
He'll replace Steve Walsh, the voice behind the band's biggest hits, including "Carry on Wayward Son," "Dust in the Wind" and "Point of Know Return." Platt also will play secondary keyboards.
"I'm going to be filling the shoes of one of my biggest idols. How flattering is that?" said Platt, 52, who will still perform more than a dozen suburban shows this month with his current band, ARRA, before joining Kansas Aug. 27.
After an intense two weeks of practice, he'll start crisscrossing the country with Kansas in September -- including a Nov. 1 show at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. The tour includes a couple of shows in South America, Platt said.
"People can expect us to shake things up musically and dust off some songs we haven't played in quite a while. Who knows? With Ronnie now on board, there may even be new music in our future!" Kansas guitarist Rich Williams said in a statement.
Kansas didn't exactly pluck Platt from obscurity. Platt has been in classic rock circles for decades, both in ARRA and in the '80s rock band Shooting Star. Both bands had opened for Kansas several times, and Platt had been on their radar for several years.
On July 7, after Walsh announced he was stepping down, Williams and fellow band member Phil Ehart called Platt and asked him to meet with them in Atlanta.
"They said, 'We don't need to hear you sing. We know you sing your (expletive) off. We just need to know if you're a nice guy,'" Platt said. "When I got there, we talked business for about 15 minutes, and then spent the next three hours talking and laughing and telling stories."
The next morning, Platt got an email saying he'd gotten the job.
"He's a perfect fit musically and personally with the band," Ehart, Kansas' drummer, said on the band's website. "His passion for the band and the music, as well as his musicianship, is exceptional."
Platt views this job as a privilege and one he takes very seriously.
"I thought, you guys might have given me the job, but now I have to earn it. I'm really anxious for that first rehearsal at the end of this month, just to get working," he said.
Platt grew up in Bellwood and describes himself as "a blue collar guy" who rides a Harley and, for most of his life, earned a living as a truck driver. Single and with no kids, he jokes that he's "tour ready."
Platt has played for huge crowds before -- he was told there were 30,000 people at ARRA's Fourth of July show at the Bolingbrook Golf Club and more than 60,000 at one of the group's past July 4 shows at Taste of Lombard.
"When I looked out, all I saw was heads," he said.
He's also performed with dozens of classic rockers over the years, including Steve Miller, Paul Rodgers, Journey and .38 Special.
"I'm still waiting to wake up," Platt said, describing the whirlwind surrounding him since last month's announcement. "To steal a line from (radio personality) Garry Meier, 'It feels like I'm having my morning coffee every 15 minutes.' Everything's happening so fast."
Platt wants Kansas fans to know he's one of them and he is not trying to replace Walsh.
"It is my goal and responsibility to sustain the integrity that is Kansas," Platt said. "The thing about Kansas fans is they're intense listeners. That doesn't put any pressure on me ... kidding!"