Kraftwerk co-founder Florian Schneider has died, aged 73. According to The Guardian, he died of cancer last week and had a private burial, although the news was only made public today (May 6).
Born Florian Schneider-Esleben in 1943, Schneider was encouraged by his architect father Paul to pursue avant-garde musical endeavours. In the artistic/musical flux of late 1960s Dusseldorf, he worked first with a proto-industrial group called PISSOFF, but on meeting architecture student Ralf Hutter at a jazz improvisation course, the pair began an enduring collaboration.
It started on record with the short-lived improv group Organisation, but quickly evolved, in 1970, into Kraftwerk, a band whose early free-rock advances in songs like “Ruckzuck” were led by Schneider’s treated flute. When Hutter returned to architecture studies that year, Schneider and other Dusseldorf musicians kept the Kraftwerk project afloat.
Schneider shunned publicity as the band evolved their run of core albums, concentrating instead on the band’s audio presentation. His vision helped the group explore thrilling new musical possibilities on hugely influential albums such as Autobahn, The Man-Machine and Computer World.
Schneider left Kraftwerk’s touring lineup in 2008. He re-emerged in 2015 with his only solo work, bearing a familiar electronic pulse, but with a timely environmental message: “Stop Plastic Pollution”.
“Such an important influence upon so much of the music we know,” wrote Gary Kemp on Twitter, “from Bowie, to electronica, much of the 80s and beyond into modern techno and rap, Florian Schneider was forging a new Metropolis of music for us all to live in. RIP”
“Another of my great heroes gone” wrote Thomas Dolby, while Midge Ure remarked that Schneider was “way ahead of his time”.
Such an important influence upon so much of the music we know, from Bowie, to electronica, much of the 80s and beyond into modern techno and rap, Florian Schneider was forging a new Metropolis of music for us all to live in. RIP #FlorianSchneider #Kraftwerk pic.twitter.com/y2nXuAY66e
— Gary Kemp (@garyjkemp) May 6, 2020
Another of my great heroes gone https://t.co/3ElmWlRKZR
— Thomas Dolby (@ThomasDolby) May 6, 2020
Way ahead of his time. ?https://t.co/sbfeVEpSeZ
— midge ure (@midgeure1) May 6, 2020