The enigmatic co-founder of one of the most influential groups in music history has died. Florian Schneider, who founded Kraftwerk with Ralf Hutter in Dusseldorf 50 years ago, died of cancer last week, a musical collaborator confirms to the Guardian. Schneider was 73. The group pioneered electronic music and inspired legions of artists in genres including synthpop, hip-hop, and rock, Billboard reports. Schneider, who met Hutter while they were classical music students taking part in the German experimental music scene, played flute, violin, guitar, and a wide variety of synthesizers, some of them custom-made. He also filed patents for an electronic drum kit and the band's "Robovox" synth-vocal processor, Pitchfork reports.
Kraftwerk released its first album in 1971 and gained international fame with a series of hit albums later in the decade, starting with 1974's Autobahn. The group was a major influence on artists including David Bowie, who named the track "V-2 Schneider" on his Heroes album after Schneider, the BBC reports. Schneider left Kraftwerk in 2008. "To say he was massively influential and changed the very sound of music, is somehow still a understatement," says film director Edgar Wright. Other artists paying tribute include Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp, who says Schneider forged "a new Metropolis of music for us all to live in." (Read more obituary stories.)