News

Florian Schneider dies aged 73

Music world mourns the passing of Kraftwerk’s co-founder

After reporting the death of Stranglers keyboard player Dave Greenfield only yesterday, there is more sad news today since Kraftwerk co-founder Florian Schneider has died at 73.

In a statement the band said, “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.”

Kraftwerk formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. They were of course electronic music pioneers and massively influential to a whole generation of artists, including David Bowie, Ultravox, OMD, Gary Numan and countless new wave artists that emerged in the early 1980s.

Despite the ‘influential’ tag, Kraftwerk enjoyed a great deal of commercial success. 1974’s Autobahn album reached the top 20 in many territories and they actually enjoyed a UK number one single (with ‘Computer Love’/’Das Model’ in 1981/2).

The band are still active today, although Schneider left in 2008. Rest in peace.

72 responses to Florian Schneider dies aged 73

  1. John 79 says:

    RIP – Florian
    A truly talented and unique person !

  2. kid992 says:

    Strange band indeed. Managed to catch them a couple of times Brixton Academy 1991 and Brussels 2004. They really were a non commercial band, would have loved to see them on the Computer World Tour 1981, when they would hand out their synthesizers to the audience to play the encore. Typically after a number one single they gave up touring completely for nearly a decade By 1991, they had given up the encores and got the robots to do it, That was a definite highlight when the curtains rolled backed at the Brixton Academy to see the robots playing the encore.
    But my biggest Kraftwerk regret was coming back home and seeing someone selling a Kraftwerk pocket calculator in Record Collector in the 80’s. My heart sank when I phoned the guy up and asked was it the one that you could play the Kraftwerk tunes on ? Yes it was and it had been sold for £6 a mythical promo item( Kraftwerk Taschenrechner). A modified Casio VL 80 calculator you literally could play Kraftwerk tunes on it (by pressing down the special keys it played a little melody). Never ever seen one before or since and I believe there maybe less than 10 in existence. Anyone got one?

  3. Oliver says:

    “Computerwelt” – Diese Kraftwerk-LP ist perfekt, keines ihrer anderen Alben strahlt außerdem derart viel Wärme aus.

  4. Dan Glaser says:

    My experience of Kraftwerk was strange to say the least.

    In 1975, after the single Autobahn was released and became a minor hit, my step-brother and I decided that we’d quite like to to see Kraftwerk who were playing in Cardiff, at the Capitol Theatre (long since demolished and a cinema for most of the time, but occasionally showing live gigs). As luck would have it, my step-brother’s grand-father, was a supplier to the then manager of the venue. Ticket sales for the concert were abysmal and we were for some strange reason ‘given’ free of charge what I believe were about 50 tickets ‘to get rid of’ outside the venue half an hour or so before the show started. Looking back now, I think it was a precondition of us getting a couple of tickets for ourselves, to try and entice some passers-by with the offer of a ‘free seat’ into the concert. Needless to say, the over-whelming majority thought it was some kind of scam, or more likely hadn’t heard of the band and probably wouldn’t have wanted to see them if they had been paid to go in. I recall now, just throwing about 48 tickets into a nearby bin just before we entered the venue for the start, thinking, well that was a waste of time. The concert was awesome as Kraftwerk played their show in front of a poorly attended venue. We both became hooked on the music and had never quite seen a show like it before. Just think how much we might have sold the tickets for had we been able to shift forward in time to when they became huge. Strange times. RIP Florian Schneider. You are gone, but your music lives on forever.

    • John McCann' says:

      And no doubt that the unused tickets themselves, would probably go for a few Bob on eBay,and you had 48 of them,!

  5. Tcf says:

    For Fans: Check the January 2017 Edition of the German Magazine “The Heritage Post”. Yes, that’s Herr Schneider on the cover. He’s wearing some strange outfits in the article about him.

  6. Paul Taylor says:

    Not wishing to hijack this thread, but just read that Sweet Pea Atkinson of Was (Not Was) passed away due to a heart attack yesterday (6th May)

    • Kai Karkkainen says:

      Thank you for the information concerning Sweet Pea Atkinson, I had not noticed this. What a wonderful singer he was, the vocals on his own albums and the Was ( Not Was ) albums were always stunning. For example, the Wham version of ”Where Did Your Heart Go?” is vastly inferior to the original Was ( Not Was ) version found on their debut album, George Michael really should not have attempted to compete with Mr Atkinson. RIP and thank you for the music.

  7. Dave says:

    Oh dear . What a week sad sad news .great music legacys left . Missed for sure . Thank you kindly .

  8. Michael says:

    Of course this is so sad, but let’s remember the legacy and hope the man did not suffer as the cause of death is described as a short cancer disease.

    The announcement when read back is so Kraftwerk. ‘A few days after his 73rd Birthday ‘ which would have been 7th April. A number of sources quote he died on 30th April. In this age of instant news how very Kraftwek-like that this sad news appears some time after Florian’s passing and the details are limited. We need know no more than he is gone. He will be remembered by so many who did not know him.

  9. Jhonn says:

    After the passing of Genesis P. Orridge, Gaby Delgado (DAF) and now Florian Schneider, 2020 is really a sad one – concerning to music.

  10. Rik Skyline says:

    ‘Tour De France’ from 1983 is a very special track to me. The original 12″ Kraftwerk mix – the ‘Long Version’ is superb. Then came the remix by Francois Kevorkian, which was slightly harder but also brilliant, and of course used to great effect in ‘Breakdance The Movie’ in 1984. Go Turbo!

    • Paul says:

      Rik – completely agree! Tour De France is just epic and was ahead of its time like everything Kraftwerk did. Can anyone advise if either the 83 12 inch long version or 84 remix been remastered and if so what have they appeared on?
      Thanks

      • Sytze says:

        There were three long versions: the original ‘version longue’ (released in German and French), the Kraftwerk remix (German or French) and the Francois Kevorkian remix (French only).
        Two of these have made it to CD: on the 1999 EMI CD single ‘Tour de France’.
        This contains the Kraftwerk remix (the French one, now titled ‘Kling Klang Analog Mix’) and the Kevorkian remix (now titled ‘Remix François K.’)
        The (unremastered) single edit of the Kevorkian remix is on a German compilation cd called ‘DJ’s Best’.
        The original ‘version longue’, as well as all German-language versions, remain unreleased on cd.

  11. Spiral Scar says:

    Like a great many bands that I’ve loved, I got into Kraftwerk after reading about them in places like the Rolling Stone and Trouser Press music guides, which were essential to me if I was ever going to take the initiative to steer myself away from top 40 and (what is now called) classic rock. Often I’d buy an LP by a band of interest without having any idea of what it was going to be like, and “Autobahn” was such an album. I had no recollection of the single being a hit here in the US, as I was eight at the time and I don’t imagine the AM stations coming out of new York ever touched it. I’d seen their other albums in the racks over the years but I hadn’t come of age musically yet. Tempted to buy the “Pocket Calculator” single on Warner Bros. on yellow vinyl in the clear printed sleeve back in ’81, but money was typically low at that age and I didn’t know a thing about it. Things would change, of course.
    I was in London in July 1985, the same week of Live Aid, but not because of it. Grabbed the current pressing of the Autobahn LP at the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street. I bought so much music on that trip that I had to sit on the plane home with a big box full of records between my feet. This was one of the LPs I was most excited about. Side Two didn’t win me over for some time but the full version of “Autobahn” fascinated the hell out of me. Bearing in mind that I was nearly ten years late to the party, I’d obviously heard quite a lot of electronic music by 1985. That’s why the four songs on side two didn’t grab me (yet,) I had to put it in its historical context. I was like being introduced to the Atari 2600 or the even earlier Fairchild Channel F (love that name!) home video game systems after years wasting quarters in arcades in the 80s. Except Kraftwerk were still around and still evolving.
    Some months later, I visited a friend at his university. We always talked music, so he played his cassette of “The Man-Machine”. I thought “Metropolis” sounded a lot like “Chase” by Giorgio Moroder. It does, but it is, in fact, older than “Chase.” I picked up my own tape of this album to play on my 2-hour ride back home from the college. It got somewhat worn out, as it is a perfect night-driving album. By mid ’86, I had every LP including the 2LP reissue of the first two albums. I got my first CD player that Christmas, and among my first ten CDs (six of them bought on Dec. 26!) were “Computer World” and “Electric Café” They sat rather incongruously next to “Boston” “Brothers in Arms” “Dark Side of the Moon” (ok, not so much that one if you think about it) and Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is”. I still smile at that the memory of only having about a dozen discs to choose from for that very brief period. But I still stand by those choices. Many years and many, many thousands of LPs and CDs later, Kraftwerk still gets played often enough so that all of their music is in my tiny apartment and not in my rented storage.
    I regret that I never got to see them live. I’m not sure how often they turned up in the US. But I hear their influence in so much music that came out around them. They were right at the front of the line of electronic artists that proved you could make structured, credible songs out of synthetic ingredients, and have commercial and artistic success. I love Neu! and Faust and Tangerine Dream (and there are others just as great) but Kraftwerk was likely the first band to make that music digestible for a mass audience. Listening to all that followed, it’s fascinating to hear where the genre got its beginnings.
    Rest in Peace, Mr. Schneider. I love the art you created.

  12. Chris says:

    Every once in a while I met him here in Düsseldorf driving with his kick scooter through the streets – wearing a loden coat. What a crazy guy he was.
    So sad – so traurig. RIP Flo

  13. david says:

    Someone else mentioned Florian/Kraftwerk as no less than a paradigm shift, and I think that’s true. Listening to Kraftwerk now, it still sounds genuinely ahead of its time, which is so rare an exception it becomes a phenomena. Florian contributed some of the best insights in terms of what music could be in the whole of the 20th century, and that sort of achievement is just incalculably valuable. RIP, Florian, you were a genuine great.

  14. AdamW says:

    I remember not being impressed by Kraftwerk, until I heard “Numbers”/”Computer World 2” in 1986 and just being blown away. I eventually “got it” and purchased all the main albums (still don’t have the first three yet, tho) and many singles. They were a very important part of my musical education. I saw them in concert twice (once with Florian still in the band), and just… wow.

    Robot in peace, Florian.

  15. Showroom Dummy says:

    Kraftwerk are the only group whose entire catalogue I have on my phone.

    Absolutely one of the most influential groups of all time; without doubt one of the biggest influences on dance music over the past 35 years.

    Without Kraftwerk there would not have been the techno dance scene as we know it.

    Even though Florian Schneider had left, I managed to tick them off as one of the groups from my “must see live” bucket list when I saw them at the RAH in June 2017. A brilliant amazing show with 3D graphics…

    RIP Florian Schneider…

  16. Trash says:

    Saw them a few times – including a great concert at the Royal Festival Hall. However the first and therefore probably the best was at the Brighton Dome on the Computer World Tour. It was also my first concert.
    I sneaked out of school with my friends Simon, Tim and another (who I can’t remember).

    The excitement when the curtains opened to reveal the Kling Klang studio onstage, followed by the classic line-up walking onstage to take their positions.
    We ran to the front of the stage almost from the first song and remained there dancing throughout.

    Fantastic group whom I love to this day!

    Thank you for all the wonderful music Florian. RIP.

  17. adam shaw says:

    Discovering Kraftwerk when I bought the Autobahn single led me into electronic music . At a time when glam was fading and I was growing up , records like these changed my world and for many others . And the best bit was introducing these new sounds to your friends . I had my first pair of headphones from a new store called Tandy , which had just arrived from the USA and listening to Autobahn just blew my mind .
    Thank you Florian and Ralph for adding a new sound to a young mind .

  18. Michael McA says:

    A pioneer indeed.

    The world needs more of them.

    RIP

  19. Ian Harris says:

    I don’t think I’ve felt so upset about the death of someone I’ve never met, but only knew through his work. Kraftwerk have been one of my favourite bands for decades.

    Florian may be gone, but the musique is non-stop.

  20. Metal Mickey says:

    “Autobahn” was the first record I ever heard as a kid that made me go, “Wow, what was that?!” and I’ve loved Kraftwerk ever since.

    … and I’m not the first to say it, but Florian really is one of the few people who could genuinely claim to have changed music as we know it; beyond influential, actually paradigm shifting.

    RIP

    • Chris Squires says:

      “…. one of the few people who could genuinely claim to have changed music as we know it”

      That would be an interesting list. Because when you think of people that might be on that list, the big names, there is usually someone, now obscured, who started it all, who came first and inspired the bigger star to follow on the coat-tails.

      Even with my musical heroes, such as Mike Oldfield, who I would love to claim changed the perception of music and the concept of the album in 1973…. but somebody would only have to say “errm, what about Terry Riley – 1969?” and my knees would crumble as the air left my popped-balloon.

      Hard list to compile.

      • John McCann' says:

        Django Reinhard?

      • Bruno says:

        Well said. Yes, there will always be a smart-arse pointing out that someone did something first, and that’s fine. I’m sure I’ve done such smart-arsery myself, in fact. I remember being slightly disappointed to realise that Prince wasn’t actually a genius, because the things he did that were really clever were mostly looted from George Clinton. Then I grew up and realised that that didn’t matter, because Prince was a fantastic songwriter and showman and musician, and so whether he’d invented any of it was irrelevant, especially as he never claimed that he had.

        For me, the list is Elvis, The Beatles, James Brown, Dylan and Kraftwerk – not because they were the best (although I wouldn’t want to argue with anyone who says they were) but because the changes they wrought trampled across genres and can still be heard today. If it was a top ten, I’d chuck Bowie, Joni and Madonna in there. After that, it gets really subjective. Chuck Berry? The Pistols? Black Sabbath? Sam Cooke? Aretha? Grandmaster Flash?

    • Steve says:

      Im extremely fortunate to have seen Kraftwerk with Florian in the line up firstly during the Mix tour at the Brixton Academy and then in 2005 at the Royal Festival Hall, to date one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.

      I will be playing The Man Machine today in his honour

      RIP

  21. Kevin Brown says:

    Very sad news, let’s also remember Millie Small who hopefully will be remembered for bringing Ska to the world’s stage with massive help from Chris Blackwell the very man who also brought the world some of the most influential diverse music on the planet.
    RIP

  22. Gary Hunter says:

    Very sad news, one of my music heroes, I remember the “Autobahn” single being in the chart and thought, wow this is unique, I didn’t connect with the band properly until 1978 when I bought “The Man Machine”, the day after listening to it I bought the albums “Autobahn”, “Trans Europe Express” and “Radio-Avtivity”.

    They have had such an influence on me I am actually recording 2 Kraftwerk covers albums, the first of which is a complete recording of “The Man Machine”, that’s how that particular album had such an effect on me.

    RIP Florian

  23. Brian Roberts says:

    Massively influential musician and band. What a sad loss but we’ll all carry on listening to the records and think of you Florian.

  24. john millington says:

    RIP Florian he can meet David Bowie

  25. Michael says:

    Hi I am looking for a box set of the following Kraftwork albums:

    Autobahn
    Radio Activity
    Trans Europe Express
    The Man Machine
    Computer World

    Does anyone know if this is available? Thank you.

    • Michel75 says:

      Yes, you have a boxset with all of their essentiel albums: it is called Der Katalog (around 120€ on discogs). An essential one.

      • Michael says:

        Thank you Michel. Will wait until it or something similar is re released.

      • Andy says:

        For around €30 more there is a limited numbered version, 2,000 copies, which comes in a black box. The one Michel mentions is the exactly the same content but with white outer packaging. Both came out in 2009, remastered that same year, both are CD only (I think).

        https://www.discogs.com/Kraftwerk-The-Catalogue/release/3529342

        There is a “3-D” version that came out in 2016, mostly to extend copyright dates hence rerecorded tracks, but there’s 11 versions to pick from, including german vocal only sets and also on vinyl and blu-ray (complete with Dolby Atmos surround mixes).

        https://www.discogs.com/Kraftwerk-3-D-The-Catalogue/master/1185775

        Both 2009 and 2016 releases are awesome but if you want no frills and artwork/audio more in keeping with the originals the 2009 set is better IMHO.

  26. Ron van Rossum says:

    RIP V2-Schneider

  27. David Carter says:

    Oh man thats seriously sad, one of my lockdown binges was playing through Kraftwerks back Catalogue. Timeless, Influential beyound comparison, a great loss

  28. T. V. says:

    I am really very sad about this news. He died too soon. His music is absolutely unique and extraordinary. It will always accompany me.

  29. Triply says:

    For me, The Man Machine was the pinnacle of Kraftwerk. An amazing album, perfect in every way.

    I am glad we have Minimum-Maximum, an official document with the founding duo of Kraftwerk performing.

    RIP Schneider. You were a pioneer.

  30. Jeremy says:

    Paul, a brief note about the life and music of Millie Small would be much appreciated. She really was a national treasure.

  31. GentleRabbit says:

    Wow, a legend and a true original.

    Helped popularise electronic music in huge ways and injected a massive amount of ‘Euro-centric’ aesthetics and sensibilities into popular music (indie, dance and hip hop in particular).

    Timeless, genius and unique are oft-thrown around adjectives with regard to art – but they fit snugly here. Florian and Kraftwerk’s impact was seismic and has made things oh-so-much better.

    Rest in Peace, Florian. Thanks for being so f*cking good.

  32. negative1 says:

    Very sad to hear this news.

    The influence of this band to me is one of the
    greatest of electronic music.
    There will never be another band that will match
    this one in musical output.

    This is a great loss to society, and to music in general.

    later
    -1

  33. Dave B says:

    As a fan for 45 years, I’d like to say thank you…

    Aside from the obvious pure pleasure involved in listening to their music, I also get a strange feeling when I listen to Kraftwerk. I haven’t been able to articulate it until now and I can’t think of any other music that elicits this emotion…

    A sense of nostalgia for something that STILL sounds like it comes from the future.

  34. richard crook says:

    Saw them a couple of years ago and although Florian was no longer with the band, the back catalogue is incredible and the tag electronic Beatles is no exaggeration. RIP

  35. Mark Wasiel says:

    I think this track with Dan Lacksman (Telex) was his last music (2015), Stop Plastic Pollution.
    Wasn’t officially released and didn’t get a lot of publicity so maybe you haven’t heard it…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5MtQMKa7ao

  36. Peter Muscutt says:

    Got into them through the Tribal Gathering festival show broadcast live on Radio 1 in 1997…I’d heard nothing like it before. Went out the next day and bought Computer World, Radio-Activity and Trans Europe Express – I’ve never looked back. A friend at college borrowed Computer World and said it was “the invention of dance music”. Finally got to see them live in Brixton in 2004, it was all I’d hoped for and more. A sad day indeed. #Music Non-Stop

  37. Rich P says:

    This is really sad news. I think influential is the biggest understatement you can give to a pioneer like this. Changed music forever. Endless Endless… RIP.

  38. Cornelius says:

    I Knew somebody who went to see Kraftwerk in Birmingham on the Computer World tour. Afterwards, Kraftwerk were in the RumRunner dancing along to the songs being played. They were actually dancing and enjoying themselves like anybody else in there, which I find amazing. I’d imagined them to be like robots all the time, and quite animated. Anyway, a sad loss. A great band who are still way ahead of the game.

  39. Mark says:

    Florian Schneider, and Kraftwerk collectively, were a game changer. Certainly one of my favourite bands of all time, going back to the old days and hearing their music for the first time as a 16 year old school boy in the late 70’s. RIP Florian.

  40. Kai Karkkainen says:

    Really sad to hear this, but what a great legacy of music he leaves behind. V-2 Schneider from David Bowie’s ”Heroes” album was of course a tribute to Florian Schneider. Thank you for the music and rest in peace.

  41. Shane says:

    RIP Florian Schneider. You made pioneering legendary music.

  42. Carl says:

    I was given a badly made cassette on the school bus in 1975 and told to listen to this it`s dead weird!, my musical taste took a complete left turn when i heard it. RIP Florian

  43. Tom M says:

    Very sad, his passing hits me harder than most. Curiously he was born April 7th, so he died almost a month ago?

  44. Luke says:

    Great musician from a great band … my interest in new wave and electronic music was heavily influenced with albums like Radio Activity, Trans Europe Express and The Man Machine.

  45. Chris Squires says:

    Ah crap. I was listening to Autobahn only on Monday. It was the second cassette I ever borrowed from my local library in about 1979, aged 12 and I fell in love with it. The first cassette was Tubular Bells and I got autobahn because someone at school (big school now) told me about it. Those were the days, people actually telling you stuff face to face. Discovery of stuff like Autobahn changed my Pre-teen world. Looking back way more important than losing one’s virginity. Which took a good while yet you’ll be relieved to hear. The pathway to Jean Michel and Tangerine Dream is easily mapped, the perfect antidote to Kate Bush, Anni-frid, Agnetha and a metric fuck-tonne of hormones.
    RIP.

  46. Soren says:

    Great artist ftom a great band (RIP)

  47. Andy B says:

    Very sad news indeed. Another musical hero gone.

    With regard The Model/Computer Love single. It was never a double A side. Computer Love was the A side and The Model was the B side on initial release in 1981. This version of the single showed a grey computer with a yellow border and a green screen. Above were the words Kraftwerk Computer Love. Apparently DJs were playing The Model on the radio rather than the A side. Therefore the record company re-released the single at the end of 1981. This time the border was red with a yellow computer screen featuring the words The Model and Kraftwerk written above the computer. I have both versions. Both vinyl discs are the same with Computer Love given the EMI number 5207A 45 and The Model with 5207B 45.

    • Mr P says:

      i can verify this as i worked at a record company (SP&S Records) in the early 80’s that specialised in buying up overstocks and deleted tapes/LP’s from the major labels.

      We had the original 7″ release and once The Model started getting airplay they all shifted in a couple of days – only charged 50p per single!

      RIP Florian, a true pioneer and a real legend.

  48. Liam Bastick says:

    Actually Paul, Computer Love was the flip side of the double-A side The Model. But that’s beside the point: RIP Ralf and let’s hope we’re not in for another 2016.

  49. KevinK says:

    The Model/Computer Love was a double A side first released in summer 1981 (peaking at #36 in the UK) which then hit the top in February 1982 when re-promoted after Christmas.

  50. Darren Gardner says:

    Another of my musical heroes gone, a true pioneer of electronic music. Thank you and RIP Florian.

  51. Woodsey Niles says:

    Another great, influential musician lost. So sad to hear. Autobahn (and Kraftwerk’s work prior to that) was a real game changer in its time. I was lucky to see Kraftwerk in Chicago during their Autobahn tour. Many didn’t know what to make of it – just 4 musicians laboring anonymously over their electronica with huge video screens behind them. Soon after, many others were doing it.

  52. KevinK says:

    Not a good week for music so far. Dave Greenfield (71) yesterday, now Millie Small (72) and Florian Schneider (73) today. R.I.P. all.

    (The Model/Computer Love was a double A side chart topper in 1981.)

  53. John McCann'. says:

    He’ll be and heaven in no time,,, if he takes the autobahn, rest in peace mate

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