Schneider, who is credited as one of the pioneers of electronic music, died last week aged 73. Kraftwerk co-founder Ralf Hütter confirmed the news, saying he “passed away from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday.”
Now, Rother, the Neu! co-founder who briefly played in Kraftwerk, has paid tribute to his old schoolmate for Uncut.
Upon receiving the news of Schneider’s death, Rother said it “hit me like a blow. Even though we hadn’t met or spoken for many years, he was always firmly in my mind as one of the most important musical figures of my life.”
Although the pair went to school together in Düsseldorf in the late 60s, they didn’t actually meet until 1971.
“When I was serving time in a mental hospital as a conscientious objector and feeling very lonely with my wish of creating a new music that was not based on Anglo-American rock/pop roots and structures, coincidence led me to a studio in Düsseldorf where some film music was to be recorded,” he said. “The name of the band working in that studio was Kraftwerk.”
He continued: “I didn’t know the band and thought the name rather silly but the musicians Ralf Hütter, with whom I jammed there, and Florian Schneider, who only listened to our session, changed my world. Shortly after this first meeting, Florian called me and invited me to join Kraftwerk and to play some concerts.”
Rother would go on to play some shows and make early recordings with Kraftwerk as a trio with Klaus Dinger on drums. “Everything that followed in my musical life had a connection to this beginning with Ralf and Florian,” he explained.
He concluded: “In later years, the music of Kraftwerk always stayed on my horizon although I didn’t put the records on at home myself. Friends of mine who were big fans of Kraftwerk played them, and until today, I admire the reduction and clarity in their music. Florian and his ideas will stay with me and the many musicians he influenced.”
Read the full tribute here.
“Kraftwerk were such a huge influence on us, both musically and stylistically,” he said. “Ian was so in awe of the way that they dressed and the way they acted as well as their music. It was the perfect triangle. If you listen to a lot of music now, you hear Kraftwerk’s influence completely.”
He continued: “They were streets ahead of anybody else, even from an electronic point of view. They were making their own sequencers years before anyone else. I remember seeing them at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall on the tour where they didn’t appear on stage. It was amazing to sit in a sold-out venue, watching four mannequins and have them get away with it because the music was so wonderful.”