Florian Schneider, of the German Electronic Band Kraftwerk Has Died at 73

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Photo Credit: Franck/Kraftwerk/Getty Images

Kraftwerk influenced notable names like David Bowie and Afrika Bambaataa.

Florian Schneider, who formed the German electronic band Kraftwerk, passed away on Wednesday after a battle with cancer. Schneider celebrated his 73rd birthday just days before.

Schneider formed the group with Ralf Hütter in 1970. With the band’s use of homemade and custom-built instruments, the group is credit with pioneering electronic music. Their influence spread to artists like David Bowie, Bowie dedicated the instrumental track “V-2 Schneider” from his 1977 album Heroes to Schneider.

The group’s reach didn’t stop there. In 1982, Afrika Bambaataa and Arthur Baker produced “Planet Rock,” primarily bonding over their mutual fondness for Kraftwerk. “A lot of people think we sampled Kraftwerk,” Bambaataa told Frank Broughton in 1998. “But it’s just not true. John Robie was a bad-ass synthesizer player, so he was just good in playing stuff, that it sounded like they sampled the record.”

Additionally, Pharrell Williams sampled the band’s “Trans-Europe Express” on his 2003 collaboration with Busta Rhymes, “Light Your Ass on Fire.”

Prior to Schneider’s passing, the band announced a summer tour of North America to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary. The shows would feature the band’s signature three-dimensional visuals. In 2017, the band released their second official live album 3-D The Catalogue. The album was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Surround Sound Album and Best Dance/Electronic Album, taking home the latter.

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