Florian Schneider-Esleben, of Kraftwerk, Took Music to Uncharted Territory

By Amanda PetrusichMay 6, 2020

The founding members of the band Kraftwerk including Florian SchneiderEsleben
It’s difficult to imagine whole genres of popular music—New Wave, techno, industrial, hip-hop—existing without Kraftwerk’s blueprint.Photograph by Caroline Coon / Camera Press / Redux

Florian Schneider-Esleben, one half of the German electronic band Kraftwerk, died from complications of cancer, a few days after his seventy-third birthday. Schneider-Esleben was famously enigmatic—obscure in a mischievous and impish way—and he had not performed live with Kraftwerk since 2006. (He left the band in 2008.) Until Sony Music, the band’s label, confirmed Schneider-Esleben’s death on Wednesday morning, many of his fans didn’t know he was sick at all.

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Amanda Petrusich is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.”More:KraftwerkMusicObituariesGermanyVisionaries

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