Kraftwerk's Florian Schneider dies, aged 73

6 May 2020, 17:40 | Updated: 6 May 2020, 17:50

Kraftwerk in 1977: Florian Schneider is at the rear, Karl Bartos, Ralf Hutter (front) and Wolfgang Flur
Kraftwerk in 1977: Florian Schneider is at the rear, Karl Bartos, Ralf Hutter (front) and Wolfgang Flur. Picture: Maurice Seymour/Kraftwerk/Getty Images

Stars have paid tribute to the pioneering electronic musician who co-founded the influential German band.

Florian Schneider, one of the founding members of pioneering electronic band Kraftwerk, has died aged 73.

The BBC reports that a statement says Schneider "passed away from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday".

Schneider left the group in 2008, but the albums that Kraftwerk released between 1974 and 1981 created a template for synth-pop, post-punk, electronica, techno and even hip hop, whose producers sampled the German beats endlessly. David Bowie used their albums as intro music for his own live shows and named a track from his "Heroes" album after Florian: V2-Schneider.

Kraftwerk line up for the Man Machine cover in 1978: Karl Bartos, Ralf Hutter, Florian Schneider and Wolfgang Flur
Kraftwerk line up for the Man Machine cover in 1978: Karl Bartos, Ralf Hutter, Florian Schneider and Wolfgang Flur. Picture: Fröhling/Kraftwerk/Getty Images

Kraftwerk are best known in the UK today for their No 1 single The Model, but they inspired artists like The Human League, Depeche Mode, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and New Order to put aside guitars and buy synthesisers instead. New Order were so inspired by Kraftwerk's electronic sounds that they sampled the German band's track Uranium for the choir effect on Blue Monday.

Electronic musicians around the world have paid tribute. The Chemical Brothers' Ed Simons simply posted their 1981 track Computer Love with the words "Perfect Electronic Music".

The music Kraftwerk pioneered in the 1970s had a huge influence on the following decade, as 80s musicians Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet) and Midge Ure (Ultravox) acknowledged on Twitter.

Born Florian Schneider-Esleben in 1947, the musician co-founded Kraftwerk in 1968 with fellow art student Ralf Hütter after they performed together in the improvisational group Organisation.

Schneider originally played amplified and treated flute in Kraftwerk, but the group soon moved to pure electronic sound and released their landmark album Autobahn in 1974.

A worldwide hit, the title track of Autobahn was one of the first major electronic hits and was followed by a series of innovative albums: Radio-Activity (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man Machine (1978) and Computer World (1981). Their Electric Cafe album was released in 1986 after a number of delays, but aside from the reworked greatest hits collection The Mix, it would mark Kraftwerk's last new material until Tour De France Soundtracks in 2003.

The band continued to tour, but Schneider officially left Kraftwerk in 2008, leaving Hütter as the only original member. Kraftwerk were due to play All Points East in London later this month, but the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 epidemic.