Florian Schneider, Kraftwerk co-founder and music pioneer, dead at 73


Florian Schneider, a pop music pioneer who co-founded the German electronic group Kraftwerk, died following a short battle with cancer. He was 73.

The sad news was confirmed in a statement from the band to Rolling Stone: “Kraftwerk co-founder and electro pioneer Ralf Hütter has sent us the very sad news that his friend and companion over many decades, Florian Schneider has passed away from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday.”

A musical polymath who had mastered a variety of instruments at a young age, Schneider was known for his scintillating synthpop beats that helped shatter boundaries and earned him the nickname “sound fetishist” by Kraftwerk vocalist Hütter.

The trailblazing keyboardist and Hütter co-founded the multimedia project Kraftwerk in 1970 after collaborating together in the ’60s. Schneider was integral in helping produce some of the most acclaimed albums in German electronica, most memorably the quadruple album series of “Radio-Activity” (1975), “Trans-Europe Express” (1977), “The Man-Machine” (1978) and “Computer World” (1981). If that wasn’t enough, Kraftwerk’s single “The Model” topped the UK music charts in 1982, and the band earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

Schneider inexplicably left the group in 2008 following their final studio album, “Tour De France,” in 2003 and a subsequent comeback tour. After that, he all but disappeared from the public eye, even breaking contact with Hütter.

However, his groundbreaking beats have made an indelible mark on the music industry. For example, in 1982, Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force used the titular song of Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europe Express” for its landmark hip-hop hit, “Planet Rock,” while “Computer World” provided the blueprint for much of the house and techno music that was popular in Chicago and Detroit at the time, The Guardian reports.

The late, great David Bowie even released the 1977 single “V-2 Schneider” in homage to the keyboard technician.

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