UPDATE: Kraftwerk co-founder Ralf Hütter has confirmed the sad news.
(Photo by Daniele Dalledonne, Trento, Italy) According to various reports Florian Schneider, known as one of the founding members of the electronic music group Kraftwerk, is no more. The musician who was part of the band until his departure in November 2008 would have died a few days ago at the age of 73 after losing his battle against cancer. The news was first spread by producer Mark Reeder and DAF-member Robert Görl and according to Ouest France confirmed by Schneider’s family.
A bicycle pump meant the end of his membership of Kraftwerk
Florian Schneider-Esleben founded Kraftwerk with Ralf Hütter in 1970 after meeting in 1968 while studying at the Academy of Arts in Remscheid. They played improvisational music together in the ensemble Organisation. Before meeting Hütter, Schneider had played with Eberhard Kranemann in the group Pissoff from 1967 to 1968. From 1968 to 1969, Schneider played flute, with Ralf Hütter on Hammond organ, Eberhard Kranemann on bass and Paul Lovens on drums.
To know how the band sounded like this, make sure to check this Kraftwerk gig from 1970 which landed on YouTube.
Originally Schneider’s main instrument was the flute, which he would treat using electronic effects, including tape echo, ring modulation, use of pitch-to-voltage converter, fuzz and wah-wah, allowing him to use his flute as a bass instrument. He also played violin (similarly treated), electric guitar (including slide guitar), and made use of synthesizers (both as a melodic instrument and as a sound processor). Later he also created his own electronic flute instrument. After the release of their 1974 album, “Autobahn”, his use of acoustic instruments diminished.
Schneider did not perform on any of the dates of the Kraftwerk 2008 world tour (his last performance with the band was November 2006 in Spain). His position onstage was filled by Stefan Pfaffe, an associate working for the band as a video technician. According to a close associate of the group, Schneider left Kraftwerk on 21 November 2008, due to a dispute… over a bicycle pump.
In 2015 Schneider and Dan Lacksman with help of Uwe Schmidt released an electronic ode, “Stop Plastic Pollution”, for ocean environment conservation as part of a campaign “Parley for the Oceans”.
Some more rare live recordings from the early years of Kraftwerk
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