German musician Klaus Dinger, who played drums in the early days of Kraftwerk and went on to co-found Neu!, died March 21 of heart failure. He was 61.

German musician Klaus Dinger, who played drums in the early days of Kraftwerk and went on to co-found Neu!, died March 21 of heart failure. He was 61. The news was not widely publicized until Neu!'s label, Gronland, announced it today (April 2).

Dinger and guitarist Michael Rother played with Kraftwerk in the early 1970s before opting to leave and form Neu! The group released three albums in rapid succession: a self-titled effort in 1972, "Neu! 2" the following year and "Neu! '75" in 1975.

Although the albums were not legally available on CD in the United States until 2001, the precise rhythms and pre-punk minimalism conjured by Dinger and Rother were a major influence on countless acts, from Sonic Youth to Tortoise and Stereolab.

Neu! disbanded after "Neu '75" but returned to the studio in 1985-86 to record new music. Material from these sessions was finally released in 1995 as "Neu! 4," although a Rother confidant later said it was only done to counter rampant bootlegging.

After Neu!, Dinger went on to form La Dusseldorf, which achieved international stardom with singles such as "Silver Cloud" and "Rheinita."

"Together with many friends of his music I will remember Klaus for his creativity as an artist and I will think about him with gratitude for his wonderful contributions to our project Neu!," Rother said in a statement.

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