Kraftwerk (former in 1970)
Kraftwerk are a German electronic music band from Düsseldorf and are widely considered pioneers of electronic music.
Kraftwerk formed when Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter met at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in the sixties, playing music that the British dubbed 'krautrock'. They first played together in a band called Organisation which released one album before splitting.
Between 1970 and 1974 Kraftwerk had an ever-changing line-up including guitarist Michael Rother and drummer Klaus Dinger briefly. Hütter even left for six months in 1971 to pursue architecture.
Kraftwerk: Musical career
Kraftwerk played experimental rock on their first three albums; the self-titled 'Kraftwerk' in 1970, 'Kraftwerk 2' in 1972 and 'Ralf und Florian' in 1973.
In 1973, they were joined by Wolfgang Flür who performed with them on the TV show 'Aspekte'.
Their sound soon developed into more synth sounds and drum machines and the third album marked the first use of their trademark vocoder.
Their work with Konrad Plank on their first four albums became massively significant in their early years and his studio near Cologne quickly became one of the most sought-after studios in the late 1970s.
In 1974 they released 'Autobahn' which became their last album with Plank and saw them make technological advancements such as the use of the Minimoog and the EMS Synthi AKS. It remains to be their biggest commercial success.
In 1975, they made their first multi-date world tour promoting 'Autobahn' with a line-up of Hütter, Schneider, Flür and Karl Bartos - a line-up that stuck until the late 80s.
Their next album was 'Radio-Activity' which was less successful in the UK and America but did reasonably well in Europe and in 1976 they embarked on another tour after which they took a break from live shows.
They released album Trans-Europe Express in 1977 at Kling Klang Studio where Hütter and Schneider met David Bowie. A collaboration was mentioned but never emerged. They followed it up with album 'The Man-Machine' in 1978 which they had sound engineer Leanard Jackson from Detroit to work on the final mix.
Three years later they released the 'Computer World' on EMI records. Lead single 'Computer Love' was released with B-side 'The Model' but they soon switched sides with the growing interest of 'The Model'. It was a number one seller in the UK and they followed it with another world tour in 1981 on which they took their studio on the road.
In 1982 they released album 'Techno Pop' which included the single 'Tour De France'. The single developed around the band's (in particular Hutter's) obsession for cycling. Hutter wanted the theme to carry through a whole album but the rest of the band did not agree. Hutter was in a coma for several days following a cycling accident during the track's recording.
After their 1986 album 'Electric Café', Flur left the band to be replaced by Fritz Hilpert.
Following some time away from touring, they started performing around Europe again in 1990 with some more intimated gigs.
Karl Bartos soon left the band.
Their next major tour was in 1991 for album 'The Mix' with Fernando Abrantes becoming a short-lived replacment for Bartos.
In 1998, they hit the US and Japan for the first time in more than 15 years where they played new songs that are still as yet unreleased. The band felt they needed another break from touring after returning from overseas.
In 1999, former member Flür released an autobiography entitled 'Ich war ein Roboter' (Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot).
2003 saw them reduce manual playing and change to laptops as they embarked on the Minimum-Maximum world tour though Hutter still sings live vocals and plays keyboard. Later in the same year, they released box set '12345678: The Catalogue' featuring their eight re-mastered albums. It was re-released in 2009.
In 2005 they released their first live album 'Minimum-Maximum' and soon did another tour with dates in Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece.
In 2008, they co-headlined at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for the second time since 2004. Some later dates were cancelled, however, after band member Fritz Hilpert fell ill with a heart condition. Later, their video technician, Stefan Pfaffe, became an official member while long time member Florian Schneider left for his other projects.
Hütter has suggested that another box set of their first three albums could be a near-future release. They have also recently released an iOS app called Kraftwerk Kling Klang Machine.
The band have always been famous for their rare interview appearances and photoshoots and generally private nature. They even kept the location of their Kling Klang Studio secret and when Coldplay singer Chris Martin requested to use the melody from their song 'Computer Love' for one of his own songs, they sent him a letter simply reading 'yes'.