German musician Irmin Schmidt, the founder of legendary experimental band Can, has been knighted by the French Ministry of Culture for his contribution to the arts, indie labels Mute and Spoon Records announced this week.
Schmidt's knighthood is paired with the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award and will be presented in Berlin on Feb. 10. The German embassy says the French government chose Schmidt "for his entire work and his great connection and effort between the two countries." He currently lives in France.
Can was formed in Cologne in 1968 by Schmidt and fellow avante garde musicians Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebezeit. They embraced an improvisational, minimalist sound and are one of the earliest bands to be dubbed krautrock. The group's first album, Monster Movie, arrived a year after forming, followed by critically acclaimed releases Tago Mago (1971) and Ege Bamyasi (1972), which featured the seminal track "Spoon." Another hit, "I Want More," climbed the charts in 1976.
It's common for non-French citizens to win the Chevalier. Recent recipients include Colombian singer Juanes, actor George Clooney and director Tim Burton.