Kraftwerk founder Florian Schneider dies aged 73

Kraftwerk founder Florian Schneider has died aged 73.

Producer Robert Goerl first broke the news with a post on Facebook reading: ‘Oh no, Florian Schneider, have a good trip’ (translated from German). 

Producer Mark Reeder then wrote on his Facebook page: ‘Good-bye Florian, you made an indelible impact upon my life, may the neonlights shine bright for you.’

Billboard later confirmed the news.

Schneider is credited with taking electronic music mainstream, with David Bowie’s song V-2 Schneider from his Heroes album named as such in dedication to the artist. 

The German star founded Kraftwerk in 1970 with Ralf Hütter two years after meeting at the Academy of Arts in Remscheid. 

Before then, he had played the flute in the band Pissoff, and he and Ralf had played with Organisation, a quintet which released one album. 

In the early days of Kraftwerk, Schneider’s main instrument was the flute, with the musician also playing the violin and guitar, and processing the instruments through synthesisers and electronic devices.

It was the release of the band’s album Autobahn in 1974 which gave Kraftwerk their big breakthrough, which hit the US charts. This was followed by Radio-Activity, which saw the band invited on tour with David Bowie – an invite they declined. 

Kraftwerk proceeded to release the iconic record Trans-Europe Express, followed by The Man-Machine and Computer World – the former carrying The Model, which hit number one in the UK and became their most successful song.

Schenider remained part of the group up until 2008, when he mysteriously disappeared from the line-up as Kraftwerk played Coachella and a string of dates across the US and Europe, with video technician Stefan Pfaffe joinin Hütter, Henning Schmitz and Fritz Hilpert.

Schneider said that he was working on different projects, and the following year, it was confirmed that he had left the band, with Pfaffe taking his place permanently. 

Kraftwerk continued to tour, and had plans to kick off their 50th anniversary tour in February, but postponed the tour until 2021 due to coronavirus.

The group was last year nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

Schneider’s final track came in 2015 – a collaboration with Dan Lacksman called Stop Plastic Pollution, as part of the Parley For The Oceans campaign. 

Social media has been flooded with tributes to Schneider, with musician Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, tweeting: ‘Farewell to the extraordinary Florian Schneider (1947-2020) of @kraftwerk – the man machine lives on through an astonishingly original back catalogue of inspirational music.’

Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos remembered both Schneider and The Stranglers’ Dave Greenfield, who died this week, tweeting: ‘Sad to hear about Florian Schneider and Dave Greenfield. Two big inspirations in my life.’

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