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Kraftwerk Biog. | Ralf Hütter | Florian Schneider | Karl Bartos | Wolfgang Flür | Fritz Hilpert | Henning Schmitz | Emil Schult | Conny Plank | Other Band Members


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Biography up to the mid 2000s.

The word unique is over-used in music, but in Kraftwerk's case it is true. They are without doubt the most important and influential band to come out of the 1970s.

Important because they bridge the gap between composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and today's electronic music; influential because without Kraftwerk modern music would not sound the same. No other artist of the last 30 years can claim these titles without keeping a straight face!

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Ralf Hütter (b. 20 August 1946, Krefeld, Germany; organ) and woodwind student Florian Schneider-Esleben (b. 7 April 1947, Dusseldorf, Germany; woodwind - died – 21 April 2020) met while they were studying improvised music in Dusseldorf, Germany. They drew on the influence of experimental electronic forces such as composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and Tangerine Dream to create minimalist music on synthesizers, drum machines and tape recorders.

Having previously recorded an album in 1970 with Organisation ( Tone Float ), Hütter and Schneider-Esleben formed Kraftwerk and recorded their debut album with drummers Andreas Hohmann and Klaus Dinger. Guitarist Michael Rother and bass player Eberhard Krahnemann were subsequently recruited for live performances at art galleries.

Hütter briefly left the line-up, but returned in time for the recording of a second self-titled album. During the recording of Kraftwerk 2, Dinger and Rother left to form Neu!. Produced by Conny Plank (later to work with Ultravox and the Eurythmics ), the bleak, spartan music provoked little response.

After releasing a duo set, Ralf Und Florian, Hütter and Schneider-Esleben were joined by Wolfgang Flür (electronic drums) and Klaus Roeder (guitar/violin/keyboards). Autobahn marked Kraftwerk's breakthrough and established them as purveyors of hi-tech, computerized music. The title track, running at more than 22 minutes, was an attempt to relate the monotony and tedium of a long road journey. An edited version reached the Top 10 in the US and UK charts.

In 1975, Roeder was replaced by Karl Bartos, who played on Radioactivity, a concept album based on the sounds to be found on the airwaves. Trans Europe Express and The Man-Machine were pioneering electronic works which strongly influenced a generation of English new-wave acts like the Human League, Tubeway Army (Gary Numan ), Depeche Mode and OMD, while David Bowie claimed to be have long been an admirer.

The New Musical Express said of The Man-Machine : "It is the only completely successful visual/aural fusion rock has produced so far".

Kraftwerk spent three years building their own Kling Klang studios in the late 70s, complete with, inevitably, scores of computers. The single The Model, from The Man-Machine, gave the band a surprise hit when it topped the UK charts in 1982, and it led to a trio of hits, including Showroom Dummies and Tour De France, a song that was featured in the movie Breakdance and became the theme for the cycling event of the same name in 1983. Electric Cafe was a disappointment, but Kraftwerk were now cited as a major influence on a host of electro artists from Afrika Bambaataa to the respected producer Arthur Baker. Bambaataa and Baker's pioneering 1982 Planet Rock single was built around samples of both Trans Europe Express and Numbers (from 1981's Computer World ).

Hütter and Schneider-Esleben have remained enigmatically quiet ever since Electric Cafe . Little then came out from Kling Klang about the departure of half the band! In the late 1980s, a frustrated Flür departed to be replaced by Fritz Hijbert . ( Flür later collaborated with Mouse On Mars under the name of Yamo). In 1999, Flür published a book about life with Kraftwerk entitled - Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot. It didn't best please the remaining band members and lawsuits from the direction of Dusseldorf abounded.

Karl Bartos left in the early 1990s. He has since worked with with OMD (Andy McCluskey) (who could be said to have been Liverpool's No. 1 Kraftwerk tribute band without the talent or vision of Kraftwerk!) and Electronic (Bernard Sumner / Johnny Marr) (Bernard Sumner from New Order who could be said to have been Manchester's No. 1 Kraftwerk tribute band!), The Mobile Homes (Sweden), and Anthony Rother and Deine Lakaien from Germany.

Bartos also formed Elektric Music with Lothar Manteuffel . Manteuffel subsequently left the group, leaving Bartos to work under the slightly modified name Electric Music.

In 2000, Bartos released the CD 4 track single, 15 Minutes Of Fame , co-written with Anthony Rother.

Kraftwerk's best known songs were collected together in 1991 on the double, The Mix, aimed chiefly at the dance music market by EMI Records.

"I think our music has to do with emotions. Technology and emotion can join hands . . ." said Hütter in 1991. They made a surprise return to live performance with a headline appearance at the UK's Tribal Gathering in the summer of 1997.

In December 1999, Hütter and Schneider-Esleben recorded a new single, Expo 2000, to promote the Expo 2000 European Business Conference in Hanover.

In 2000, Kraftwerk contributed to the Japanese charity CD, Zero Landmine, co-ordinated by Riuichi Sakamoto and also featuring among others, David Sylvian.

In August 2003, the band finally released Tour de France Soundtracks, its first album of new material since 1986's Electric Café.

In 2004, a box set entitled, The Catalogue was planned for release. It was to feature remastered editions of the group's albums from 1974's Autobahn to 2003's Tour de France Soundtracks. The item was soon withdrawn from Kraftwerk and EMI's album release schedule. It was only released as a promotional item on CD. In 2007, the group had shown a renewed interest in releasing the collection, although an official street date has not been given.

In June 2005, the band’s first-ever official live album, Minimum-Maximum, which was compiled from the shows during the band's tour of spring 2004, received extremely positive reviews. Most of the tracks featured had been heavily reworked and remodelled from the existing studio versions. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album. In December, the Minimum-Maximum 2-DVD set was released to accompany the album, featuring live footage of the band performing the Minimum-Maximum tracks in various venues all over the world. To many fans, this was a major shock noting that Hütter as early as 1975 stated that the group would release a "video disc as soon as it (the technology) is available in Germany". Prior to December 2005, the group had never released any of their video works or live performances commercially.

On September 21st 2007, Kraftwerk released a new single remixed by the UK Indie/Electro foursome Hot Chip. Included are remixes of the tracks Aerodynamik and La Forme, both culled from Kraftwerk's Tour de France Soundtracks album released in 2003.



Date of Birth: 20 August 1946
Born: Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Famous for: Writer, singer, keyboardist, and the guru of all things Kraftwerkian
Status: Current band member

Ralf Hütter, with Florian Schneider, was a primary member of Krafftwerk. They first met as classical music students at the Dusseldorf Conservatory, originally teaming in the group Organisation and issuing a 1970 album, Tone Float. Schneider and Hütter soon disbanded Organisation, re-christening themselves Kraftwerk (German for "power station"), beginning work on their own studio (later dubbed Kling Klang), and immersing their music in the fledgling world of minimalist electronics; their 1971 debut, titled simply Kraftwerk 1, offered a hint of their unique aesthetic in its earliest form, already implementing innovations including Schneider's attempts at designing homemade rhythm machines.

Hütter briefly left the band in the early 1970s (for more details on his career with the band click here).

He is an avid cyclist, and was involved in a serious cycling accident in 1983 which left him in hospital for many months.



Date of Birth: 7 April 1947
Born: Düsseldorf, Germany
Died: 21 April 2020
Famous for: Vocalist, musician, and the unmistakable beautifully odd face of all things Kraftwerkian
Status: Former band member

He founded Kraftwerk with Ralf Hütter in 1970, the two having met in 1968, studying firstly at the Academy of Arts in Remscheid, then at the Robert Schumann Academy in Düsseldorf, and played together in the improvising ensemble Organisation.

For more details on his career with the band click here.

Lived in Meerbusch-Büderich near Düsseldorf, and had a daughter named Lisa. Is the son of architect Paul Schneider-Esleben.

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Date of Birth: 31 May 1952
Born: Berchtesgaden, Germany
Famous for: Keyboards, percussion, and a quarter of the classic line-up
Status: Former band member (1975-91)

Bartos was the youngest by some 5 years of the classic line-up. He was originally recruited to play on their US Autobahn tour. In addition to his percussion playing, he was credited with songwriting on the Man-Machine, Computerworld and Electric Café albums, and sang one lead vocal on the latter. He left the group in 1991, reportedly frustrated at the slow progress in the group's activities due to the increasingly perfectionist attitude of founding members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider.

He left the band in the early 1990s. He has since worked with with OMD (Andy McCluskey) and Electronic (Bernard Sumner / Johnny Marr), The Mobile Homes (Sweden), and Anthony Rother and Deine Lakaien from Germany.

Bartos also formed Elektric Music with Lothar Manteuffel. Manteuffel subsequently left the group, leaving Bartos to work under the slightly modified name Electric Music.

Bartos released the CD 4 track single, 15 Minutes Of Fame in 2002, co-written with Anthony Rother. The following year he released the synthpop album Communication, featuring such songs as I'm the Message, Camera and Ultraviolet.



Date of Birth: 17 July 1947
Famous for: Keyboards, percussion, and now that dodgy book about his time when he was a member of the classic line-up
Status: Former (very) band member (1973-87)

Before Kraftwerk Flur had played a conventional acoustic drum kit in the Düsseldorf band The Spirits of Sound.

For more details on his career with the band click here.

Flür is now the founding member of Yamo, who released an album Time Pie in 1997, produced in collaboration with Mouse on Mars. Flür's next release, the 12" and remixes of I Was A Robot climbed to number 6 in the German club charts. Collaborations with Pizzicato 5 and Der Plan founding member Pyrolator have been announced, and the lyrics to the song Greed are in Flür's autobiography, but this material remains unreleased.

Flür also wrote an autobiography, published in the year 2000, called Ich war ein Roboter (English version: I Was a Robot), showing the inner workings of Kraftwerk from the beginning. This book met with hostility and litigation from his former Kraftwerk colleagues Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. The original Hannibal Verlag edition was soon withdrawn, following an injunction, but the book was republished in English and Japanese. For me, it's not a great read and is a book that should have been left unpublished. Part of the appeal of the enigma that is Kraftwerk is that so little is known about the band and should be left as such. To bring personal information into the public domain inevitably demystifies the band. This book attempts to unravel the mystery and fails to. Flür himself doesn't comes out of it with much credit even though the courts ruled that he indeed played on Autobahn.

Recently, Flür has been seen DJing in clubs, playing tech house and electro. He has also accompanied the German synthpop duo, Dyko, in live shows as an electronic percussionist.

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Date of Birth: May 31, 1956, Germany

Studied: Until 1976, piano and flute, the Musisches Max-Reger-Gymmnasium, Germany. From there studied sound engineering at the Musikhochschule Rheinland and the FH Düsseldorf. Received Diplom-Ingenieur qualification in 1978

Work includes: Engineered the Kraftwerk album The Mix, worked musically with the band since 1999's Expo 2000; sound engineer at Kling Klang studio; administrator at both of the band's official sites
Status: Current band member (since 1987), replaced Flür



Date of Birth: December 26, 1953, Germany

Studied: Musikhochschule Rheinland and the FH Düsseldorf. Received Diplom-Ingenieur qualification in 1980

Work includes: Kraftwerk sound engineer from 1978, credited on the Electric Cafe album in 1986; administrator at both of the band's official sites. Creates pieces of music and sound effects for radio programmes produced by WDR since the mid-1980s

Status: Current band member (since 1991), replaced short-term replacement member Fernando Abrantes



Date of Birth: 10 October 1946
Place of Birth: Dessau, Germany
Renaissance Man: Painter, poet and musician

Most Famous For: Collaborations with Kraftwerk. Co-writer on some of the lyrics to the band's songs; also created many of the sleeve designs for the band since 1973. Briefly played guitar for the band around 1973



Name: Konrad "Conny" Plank
Date of Birth: May 3, 1940, Germany
Date of Death: December 18, 1987, Cologne (cancer)
Known as: Record producer, sound engineer and musician
Began: Soundman for Marlene Dietrich

Famous for: Being at the centre of Krautrock. And his studio near Cologne

Kraftwerk link: Worked on Kraftwerk, Kraftwerk 2, Ralf und Florian, Autobahn


  • Fernando Abrantes – Electronic percussion
  • Klaus Röder – Guitar, electro-violin
  • Plato Kostic (aka Plato Riviera) – Bass guitar
  • Peter Schmidt – Drums .
  • Michael Rother – Guitar
  • Houschäng Néjadepour – Guitar
  • Klaus Dinger – Drums
  • Charly Weiss – Drums
  • Andreas Hohmann – Drums
  • Eberhard Kranemann – Bass guitar

    R A R I T I E S

    Kraftwerk Biog. | Ralf Hütter | Florian Schneider | Karl Bartos | Wolfgang Flür | Fritz Hilpert | Henning Schmitz | Emil Schult | Conny Plank | Other Band Members


    Kraftwerk Cassette Index

    Kraftwerk Price Guide

    3-D (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8) 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album, English Version (Europe) (2017)

    Aerodynamik CD, Maxi-Single, Promo UK (2004)

    Autobahn Remastered CD (2009)

    Autobahn LP Vinyl Reissue (2009)

    Computer World CD (2003)

    Computer World Remastered CD (2009)

    Computer World LP Vinyl Reissue (2009)

    Concert Classics CD (1998)

    Electric Cafe CD (1995)

    Expo Remix (Germany CD, Maxi-Single) (EMI Electrola, Kling Klang, 2000) (7243 8 89612 2 6)

    Maximum Kraftwerk: Interview CD (2004)

    The Man Machine Cass, Cassette, Album, Reissue (UK)

    The Man Machine Remastered CD (2009)

    The Man Machine LP Vinyl Reissue (2009)

    Minimum - MaximumUK Special Edition 4-disc set (2005)

    Minimum - MaximumSigned by 2 UK Special Edition 4-disc set (2005)

    The Mix Remastered CD (2009)

    Radio-Activity Remastered CD (2009)

    Radioactivity Cass, Cassette, Single (UK) (1991)

    The Robots Cass, Cassette, Single (UK) (1991)

    Techno Pop Remastered CD (2009)

    Tour De France UK 12" (Breakdance Text) (EMI, 1984) (12 EMI 5413)

    Tour De France Remastered CD (2009)

    Trans-Europe Express Cass, Cassette, Album, Reissue (UK)

    Trans-Europe Express Remastered CD (2009)

    Trans-Europe Express LP Vinyl Reissue (2009)

    Kraftwerk Price Guide

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