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Remembering Kraftwerk founder and cycling fan Florian Schneider

Electronic music pioneer dead at 73

Florian Schneider, co-founder and keyboardist of iconic electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73.

Using keyboards and synthesizers, the group was extremely influential in shaping the trajectory of music across a wide spectrum of genres, from electronic to rock to pop and hip-hop. The German band members were famously fans of cycling—they released an album dedicated to the sport and biked regularly for fitness and enjoyment.

Kraftwerk and cycling

In the late 1970s Kraftwerk members took up cycling. The band was located close to the Netherlands which Kraftwerk singer and keyboardist Ralf Hütter described as “cycling heaven” in a 2015 interviews with Rolling Stone.

The band released Tour de France in 1982, a track inspired by the breathing, heartbeat and sounds of a bike experienced on a ride. “It’s kind of like part of our culture, our cultural background,” said Hütter. “The Tour has been going for over a hundred years. It’s a cultural institution.”

“We know that from cyclists, when they listen to our music, they understand; they listen, and they understand how the music is composed. It’s important when you move with your bicycle to listen to the environment, the surroundings, the wind and your own breath. At least that’s the way we see this.”

Florian Schneider, left the group in 2008. There was a rumour at the time, which turned out to be unfounded, that Schneider left the group due to a dispute over a bike pump. He and Hütter were the founding members of Kraftwerk and for their last studio album together they collaborated on 2003’s Tour de France Soundtracks, recorded in honour of the hundredth anniversary of the first Tour.

Although Schneider passed away in April, Kraftwerk only announced his death this week. “Kraftwerk co-founder and electro pioneer Ralf Hütter has sent us the very sad news that his friend and companion over many decades Florian Schneider has passed away from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday,” the band said in a statement.