Florian Schneider of German electronic band Kraftwerk has died, Billboard has confirmed. He was 73.
In a statement, Kraftwerk co-founder Ralf Hütter confirms “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.”
Schneider formed the influential group and multimedia project with Hütter in 1970. Kraftwerk — with its use of electronic instruments that included homemade and custom-built devices — has been widely credited with pioneering electronic music and influencing various genres across the musical spectrum, including hip-hop, synthpop and rock with their soundscapes, experimentation and technical innovations.
The late David Bowie also recognized Schneider’s influence on his own art. On Bowie’s 1977 album Heroes, the iconic artist titled his mostly instrumental track “V-2 Schneider” after the musician.
Schneider — who played the synthesizer, vocoder, flute, sax and more, as well as provided vocals — left the band in 2008 after four decades. During his time with the group, Kraftwerk released 10 studio albums, seven of which charted on the Billboard 200, including 1974’s acclaimed Autobahn, which peaked at No. 5. The record’s title track — inspired by the German highway system — reached No. 25 in 1975 on the Billboard 100. In keeping with the band’s themes of transportation and technology, title track “Trans-Europe Express” — off the group’s sixth album and inspired by the Trans-Europe Express rail system, reached No. 67 in 1978.
Kraftwerk, whose music also highly influenced industrial and dance genres, has tallied eight entries on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs chart. Among them are a pair of No. 1s, both in 1987: “Musique Non Stop” and “The Telephone Call (Remix).”
Over their decades of creating music, the band has sold a collective 733,000 copies since the inception of Nielsen Music/MRC Data in 1991. They also won the best dance/electronic album Grammy in 2017 for 3-D The Catalogue, and were honored with the lifetime achievement award in 2014.
Though nominated for the Rock Hall of Fame six times, the influential electronic band has yet to be inducted.
Prior to his death, Kraftwerk had announced that the band would be embarking on a summer tour of North America to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary. The shows were set to feature the 3-D visuals the band is known for, melding music and robotics. The celebratory shows were canceled due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
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