Florian Schneider, the co-founder of the pioneering electronic music group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73.
Record label Sony confirmed his death on Wednesday.
Schneider had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer.
He founded Kraftwerk alongside fellow German Ralf Hutter in 1970 after meeting as students in Dusseldorf.
Schneider worked on all the group’s studio albums, including The Man-Machine, which spawned their biggest hit, The Model, which topped the UK charts in 1982.
A multi-discipline artist, he played the synthesizer, vocoder, flute and saxophone.
Kraftwerk played a major role in the emergence of synthpop in the 1980s and were widely sampled by house and disco producers in Chicago and Detroit.
Also among Schneider’s admirers was David Bowie, whose Berlin Trilogy of Low, Heroes and Lodger in the 1970s was inspired by Kraftwerk.
Bowie even named an instrumental track on the album Heroes, V-2 Schneider, after the musician.
Following Kraftwerk’s final studio album, 2003’s Tour De France Soundtracks, and a return to touring, Schneider left the group in 2008.
The group were due to embark on a summer tour celebrating their 50th anniversary but this was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In their current make-up as a four-piece, Kraftwerk features co-founder Hutter alongside Fritz Hilpert, Henning Schmitz and Falk Grieffenhagen.
Spandau Ballet singer Gary Kemp was among those paying tribute.
He wrote: “Such an important influence upon so much of the music we know, from Bowie, to electronica, much of the 80s and beyond into modern techno and rap, Florian Schneider was forging a new Metropolis of music for us all to live in.”
The Cure’s Lol Tolhurst tweeted: “EVERY modern musician owes something to this mans vision. I was lucky enough to see him with Kraftwerk, with my son Gray some years ago. A magical experience.Thank you Florian.”
English electronic outfit Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark said: “We are absolutely devastated to learn that one of our heroes Florian Schneider has passed away.”
Singer Lloyd Cole added: “The very best electropop, ever. RIP Florian.”
Schneider was the son of modernist architect Paul Schneider and spent much of his childhood in Dusseldorf.
Both he and Hutter were already working in avant-garde and experimental music when they met. In a 2005 interview with MOJO magazine, Hutter described him as a “sound perfectionist”.
“So, if the sound isn’t up to a certain standard, he doesn’t want to do it,” he said. “With electronic music there’s no necessity ever to leave the studio. You could keep making records and sending them out.
“Why put so much energy into travel, spending time in airports, in waiting halls, in backstage areas, being like an animal, just for two hours of a concert?”