- 06 May 20
The sad news has been confirmed by his friend and former bandmate Ralf Hütter
There's more desperately sad news this afternoon with word coming through that one of the founder members of Kraftwerk, Florian Schneider-Esleben, has died from cancer. He was 73.
“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,” the band say in a statement. “In the year 1968 Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider started their artistic and musical collaboration. In 1970 they founded their electronic Kling Klang studio in Düsseldorf and started the multi-media project Kraftwerk. All the Kraftwerk catalogue albums were conceived and produced there.”
When he put the Mk. 1 version of the band together, Ralf and Florian couldn't have known that 'Trans Europe Express' being sampled by Bronx resident Afrika Bambaataa twelve years later would change the face of modern music. Living two-floors up from Mr. B at the time was Chic drummer Ralph Rolle.
"At first it was, ‘Oh, they’re just playing records’ but gradually people realised that taking Kraftwerk’s ‘Trans Europe Express’ and turning it into something insanely danceable was an art form of its own," he told Hot Press in a recent interview. "If you want to get down to minutes and days, Kool Herc was probably the first person to scratch with Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash and Disco King Mario in a photo-finish for second. They were the guys who lit the fuse; our Clash and Sex Pistols.”
Of course, Kraftwerk had been revolutionary before that with their 1974 hit, 'Autobahn', sounding like nothing else that had made it into the top 10 before. David Bowie was completely fucking blown away by it, as were the young whippersnappers who went on to form the likes of Depeche Mode, OMD, Tubeway Army, New Order, Soft Cell and, well, just about every '70s/'80s outfit that challenged rock 'n' roll orthodoxy by buying themselves a synth.
Since then, it's easier to list who hasn't been influenced by Kraftwerk with everybody from Trent Reznor, Bjork and U2 (remember their cover of 'Neon Lights'?) to Madonna, Coldplay and Kanye West acknowledging their genius. As for Daft Punk, well, let's be honest, essentially they're a Kraftwerk tribute band.
The aforementioned Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Thomas Dolby and Blindboy are among those who've paid tribute to Florian...
We are absolutely devastated to learn that one of our heroes Florian Schneider has passed away. pic.twitter.com/Y2dnYfxkj8
— Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (@OfficialOMD) May 6, 2020
Another of my great heroes gone https://t.co/3ElmWlRKZR
— Thomas Dolby (@ThomasDolby) May 6, 2020
If you're wondering why the fuss about Florian Schneider and Kraftwerk, please don't listen to The Model. Go instead to Autobahn, an album from 1974 that sounds far ahead of its time in 2020 ... and listen to Morganspaziergang https://t.co/ZaVhlPjFyD pic.twitter.com/iqLJBumVwR
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) May 6, 2020
RIP Florian Schneider.I can't begin to describe how revolutionary Kraftwerk were.This Doc here shows many young bands threw away guitars and bought synths after seeing them on BBC"Tomorrows World",where they were presented as a novelty at the time. https://t.co/JOqi8496ao
— The Blindboy Podcast (@Rubberbandits) May 6, 2020
RIP Kraftwerk founding member Florian Schneider ❤️ pic.twitter.com/IJAeBPIJGm
— mark stewart (@_markstewart) May 6, 2020
What a week... now the great Florian Schneider... feeling an era passhttps://t.co/hsmc8elsuF
— nigel godrich 🌈 (@nigelgod) May 6, 2020