Kraftwerk, 1976. Kraftwerk's most prominent line-up; from left to right: Ralf Hütter, Karl Bartos, Wolfgang Flür and Florian Schneider
Background information
Origin Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Genres Electronic, electropop, synthpop, rock, experimental rock, progressive rock
Years active 1970–present
Labels Kling Klang, EMI, Astralwerks, Elektra, Warner Bros., Capitol, Vertigo, Philips

Reissues and Compilations:
Mute, Cleopatra, Parlophone, Mercury, Fontana
Associated acts Organisation, Neu!
Ralf Hütter
Fritz Hilpert
Henning Schmitz
Stefan Pfaffe
Past members
Florian Schneider
Houschäng Néjadepour
Plato Riviera
Peter Schmidt
Charly Weiss
Thomas Lohmann
Eberhard Kranemann
Andreas Hohmann
Klaus Dinger
Michael Rother
Emil Schult
Wolfgang Flür
Klaus Röder
Karl Bartos
Fernando Abrantes

Kraftwerk (German pronunciation: [ˈkʀaftvɛɐk], meaning power plant or power station) is an influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The group was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, and was fronted by them until Schneider's departure in 2008. The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western Classical style of harmony, with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation. The group's simplified lyrics are at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software. Kraftwerk were one of the first groups to popularize electronic music and are considered pioneers in the field. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Kraftwerk's distinctive sound was revolutionary, and has had a lasting effect across many genres of modern music.[1][2][3][4][5]



Formation and early years (1970–1973)

Florian Schneider (flutes, synthesizers, electro-violin) and Ralf Hütter (electronic organ, synthesizers) met as students at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf in the late 1960s, participating in the German experimental music and art scene of the time, which the British music press dubbed "Krautrock".[6]

The duo had originally performed together in a quintet known as Organisation. This ensemble released one album, titled Tone Float (issued on RCA Records in the UK) but the group split shortly thereafter.

Early Kraftwerk line-ups from 1970–1974 fluctuated, as Hütter and Schneider worked with around a half-dozen other musicians over the course of recording three albums and sporadic live appearances; most notably guitarist Michael Rother and drummer Klaus Dinger, who left to form Neu!.[6] The only constant figure in these line-ups was Schneider, whose main instrument at the time was the flute; at times also playing violin and guitar, all processed through a varied array of electronic effects. Hütter, who left the band for six months in 1971 to pursue studies in architecture, played synthesiser keyboards (including Farfisa organ and electric piano).

Cover of Kraftwerk’s self-titled first album.

Their first three albums were more free-form experimental rock without the pop hooks or the more disciplined strong structure of its later work. Kraftwerk, released in 1970, and Kraftwerk 2, released in 1972, were mostly exploratory jam music, played on a variety of traditional instruments including guitar, bass, drums, electric organ, flute and violin. Post-production modifications to these recordings were then used to distort the sound of the instruments, particularly audio-tape manipulation and multiple dubbings of one instrument on the same track. Both albums are purely instrumental. Live performances from 1972–73 were made as a duo, using a simple beat-box-type electronic drum machine, with preset rhythms taken from an electric organ. These shows were mainly in its native Germany, with occasional shows in France.[6] Later in 1973, Wolfgang Flür joined the group for rehearsals, and the unit performed as a trio on the television show, Aspekte, for German television network ZDF.[7]

With Ralf und Florian, released in 1973, the band began to move closer to its classic sound, relying more heavily on synthesisers and drum machines. Although almost entirely instrumental, the album marks Kraftwerk's first use of the vocoder, which would, in time, become one of its musical signatures.

The input, expertise, and influence of producer and engineer Konrad "Conny" Plank was highly significant in the early years of Kraftwerk and Plank also worked with many of the other leading German electronic acts of the period, including members of Can, Neu!, Cluster and Harmonia. As a result of his work with Kraftwerk, Plank's studio near Cologne became one of the most sought-after studios in the late 1970s. Plank co-produced the first four Kraftwerk albums.[6]

International breakthrough (1974–1976)

The release of Autobahn in 1974 saw the band moving away from the sound of its earlier albums. The members had invested in newer technology such as the Minimoog, helping give the group a newer, disciplined sound. Autobahn would also be the last album that Conny Plank would engineer. After the commercial success of Autobahn, the band members invested money into updating their studio. This meant they no longer had to rely on outside producers. At this time the painter and graphic artist Emil Schult became a regular collaborator with the band, working alongside the band. Schult designed artwork in addition to later co-writing lyrics and accompanying the group on tour.[6]

The year 1975 saw a turning point in Kraftwerk's live shows. With financial support from Phonogram in the US, it was able to undertake a multi-date tour to promote the Autobahn album. This tour took them to the US, Canada and the UK for the first time. The tour also saw a new, stable, live line-up in the form of a quartet. Hütter and Schneider both mainly played keyboard parts on synthesizers such as the Minimoog and ARP Odyssey, with Schneider's use of flute diminishing. The pair also sang vocals on stage for the first time, with Schneider also using a vocoder live. Wolfgang Flür and new recruit Karl Bartos performed live on self-made electronic percussions. Bartos also used a Deagan Vibraphone on stage. The Hütter-Schneider-Bartos-Flür formation is now regarded as the classic line-up of Kraftwerk, which remained in place until the late 1980s. Emil Schult generally fulfilled the role of tour manager.[6]

After the 1975 Autobahn tour, Kraftwerk began work on a follow up album, Radio-Activity (German title: Radio-Aktivität). After further investment in new equipment, the Kling Klang Studio became a fully working recording studio. It was decided that the new album would have a central theme. This theme came from the band members' shared interest in radio communication, which had become enhanced on their last tour of the United States. While Emil Schult began working on artwork and lyrics for the new album, the band began to work on the music. Radio-Activity was less successful in the UK and American markets, but it did open up the European market for the band, gaining them a gold disc in France. Kraftwerk produced some promotional videos and performed several European live dates to promote the album. With the release of Autobahn and Radio-Activity, Kraftwerk had left behind its avant-garde experimentations and had moved forward toward electronic pop tunes.[6]

In 1976, the group went out on tour in support of the Radio-Activity album. Despite some new innovations in touring, the band took a break from live performances after the "Radio-Activity tour" of 1976.

Trains, Robots and Computers (1977–1982)

After having finished the "Radio-Activity tour" Kraftwerk began recording Trans-Europe Express (German: Trans-Europa Express) at Kling Klang Studio.[6] Trans-Europe Express was mixed at the Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles. It was around this time that Hütter and Schneider met David Bowie at Kling Klang Studio. A collaboration was mentioned in an interview with Hütter, but it never materialised. Kraftwerk had previously been offered a support slot on Bowie's Station to Station tour, but they turned it down.The release of Trans-Europe Express was marked with an extravagant train journey used as a press conference by EMI France. The album was released in March 1977.[6] The album won a disco award in New York later that year.

In May 1978 Kraftwerk released The Man-Machine (German: Die Mensch Maschine). "The Man-Machine" was recorded at the Kling Klang Studio. Due to the complexity of the recording the album was mixed at Studio Rudas in Düsseldorf. The band hired sound engineer Leanard Jackson from Detroit to work together with Joschko Rudas on the final mix of the record. "The Man-Machine" was the first Kraftwerk album where Karl Bartos was co-credited as songwriter. The cover to the new album was produced in black, white and red, the artwork was inspired by Russian artist El Lissitzky and the Suprematism movement. The image of the band on the front cover was photographed by Gunther Frohling. This showed the band dressed in red shirts and black ties. Following the release of The Man-Machine Kraftwerk would not release an album for another three years.[6]

In May 1981 Kraftwerk released the album Computer World (German: Computerwelt) on EMI records.[6] The album was recorded at Kling Klang Studio between 1978 and 1981.[6] A lot of this time was spent modifying the Kling Klang Studio so the band could take it on tour with them.[6] Some of the electronic vocals on Computer World were created using a Texas Instruments Language Translator[8] "Computer Love" was released as a single from the album backed with the earlier Kraftwerk track "The Model"[6] Radio DJs were more interested in the B-side so the single was repackaged by EMI and re-released with "The Model" as the a-side. The single reached the number one position in the UK making "The Model" Kraftwerk's most successful record in the UK.[6] The band's live set focused increasingly on song-based material, with greater use of vocals and the use of sequencing equipment for percussion and musical lines. The approach taken by the group was to use the sequencing equipment interactively, thus allowing room for improvisation. Ironically Kraftwerk did not own a computer at the time of recording Computer World.

Kraftwerk returned to the live scene with the Computer World tour of 1981, where the band effectively packed up its entire Kling Klang studio and took it on the road. The band also developed an increasing use of visual elements in the live shows during this period. This included back-projected slides and films, increasingly synchronised with the music as the technology developed, the use of hand-held miniaturised instruments during the set (for example, during "Pocket Calculator"), and, perhaps most famously, the use of replica mannequins of themselves to perform onstage during the song "The Robots".

Cycling non stop (1983–1989)

In 1982 Kraftwerk began to work on a new album that initially had the working title Technicolor but due to trademark issues the group decided to change the proposed name to Techno Pop. One of the songs from these recording sessions was "Tour de France", which EMI released as a single in 1983. This song was a reflection of the band's new found obsession for cycling. After the physically demanding "Computer World" tour, Ralf Hütter had been looking for forms of exercises that fit in with the image of Kraftwerk, subsequently he encouraged the group to become vegetarians and taking up cycling. "Tour de France" included sounds that followed this theme including bicycle chains, gear mechanisms and the breathing of the cyclist. At the time of the single's release Ralf Hütter tried to persuade the rest of the band that they should record a whole album based around cycling. The other members of the band were not convinced, and the theme was left to the single alone.[6] "Tour de France" was released in German as well as in French language. The vocals of the song were recorded on the Kling Klang Studio stairs to create the right atmosphere.[6] "Tour de France" was featured in the 1984 film Breakin' showing the influence that Kraftwerk had on black American dance music.[6]

During the recording of "Tour de France" Ralf Hütter was involved in a serious cycling accident.[6] He suffered head injuries and was left in a coma for a few days. During 1983 Wolfgang Flür was beginning to spend less time in the studio. Since the band began using sequencers his role as a drummer was becoming less frequent. He preferred to spend his time travelling with his girlfriend. Flür was also experiencing artistic difficulties with the band. After his final work on the 1986 album Electric Café (a.k.a. Techno Pop) he hardly returned to the Kling Klang Studio.[7] Wolfgang Flür left the band in 1987 and was replaced by Fritz Hilpert.[9]

In the mix (1990–1999)

After years of withdrawal from live performance Kraftwerk began to tour Europe more frequently again. In February 1990 they played a few secret shows in Italy. Karl Bartos left the band shortly afterwards. The next proper tour was in 1991, for the album The Mix. Hütter and Schneider wished to continue the synth-pop quartet style of presentation, and recruited Fernando Abrantes as a replacement for Bartos. Abrantes left the band shortly after though. In late 1991, long time Kling Klang Studio sound engineer Henning Schmitz was brought in to finish the remainder of the tour and to complete a new version of the quartet that remained active until 2008. In 1997 they had a famous appearance at dance festival Tribal Gathering held in England.[10] In 1998, the group toured the US and Japan for the first time since 1981, along with shows in Brazil and Argentina. Three new songs were performed during this period, which remain unreleased. Following this trek, the group decided to take another break.[11]

In July 1999 the single "Tour de France" was reissued in Europe by EMI after it had been out of print for several years.[12] It was released for the first time on CD in addition to a repressing of the 12-inch vinyl single. Both versions feature slightly altered artwork that removed the faces of Flür and Bartos from the four man cycling paceline depicted on the original cover.[12] In 1999 ex-member Flür published his autobiography in Germany, Ich war ein Roboter.[13] Later English-language editions of the book were titled Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot.[13]

The single "Expo 2000" was released in December 1999.[14] The track was remixed and re-released as "Expo Remix" in November 2000.[15]

Touring the globe (2000–2009)

Kraftwerk live in Stockholm, February 2004

In August 2003 the band released Tour de France Soundtracks, its first album of new material since 1986's Electric Café.[16] In January and February 2003, prior to the release of the album, the band started the extensive Minimum-Maximum world tour, using four customised Sony VAIO laptop computers, effectively leaving the entire Kling Klang studio at home in Germany. The group also obtained a new set of transparent video panels to replace its four large projection screens. This greatly streamlined the running of all of the group's sequencing, sound-generating, and visual-display software. From this point, the band's equipment increasingly reduced manual playing, replacing it with interactive control of sequencing equipment.

Hütter retains the most manual performance, still playing musical lines by hand on a controller keyboard and singing live vocals and having a repeating ostinato. Schneider's live vocoding has been replaced by software-controlled speech-synthesis techniques. In November 2003, the group made a surprising appearance at the MTV European Music Awards in Edinburgh, Scotland, performing Aerodynamik. The same year a promotional box set entitled 12345678 (subtitled The Catalogue) was issued[17], with plans for a proper commercial release to follow. The box featured remastered editions of the group's core eight studio albums, from Autobahn to Tour de France Soundtracks. This long-awaited box-set would eventually be released in November 2009.

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.[18] The album contained reworked tracks from existing studio albums. This included a track titled Planet Of Visions that was a reworking of "Expo 2000".[18] In support of this release, Kraftwerk made another quick sweep around the globe with dates in Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey, and Greece. In December, the DVD release of Minimum-Maximum was made available. During 2006, the band performed at festivals in Norway, the Czech Republic, Spain, Belgium and Germany.

In April 2008 the group played three shows in US cities Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Denver, and was a co-headliner at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This was their second appearance at the festival since 2004. Further shows were performed in Ireland, Poland, Ukraine, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore in late 2008. Kraftwerk's headline set at Global Gathering in Melbourne, Australia on 22 November 2008 was cancelled moments before it was scheduled to begin, due to a heart problem of Fritz Hilpert.[19] The touring quartet consisted of Ralf Hütter, Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert, and video technician Stefan Pfaffe. Original member Florian Schneider was absent from the lineup. Hütter stated that he was working on other projects.[20]

On 21 November 2008 Kraftwerk officially confirmed Florian Schneider's departure from the band.[21] The Independent commented that incident: "There is something brilliantly Kraftwerkian about the news that Florian Schneider, a founder member of the German electronic pioneers, is leaving the band to pursue a solo career. Many successful bands break up after just a few years. It has apparently taken Schneider and his musical partner, Ralf Hütter, four decades to discover musical differences."[22]

Kraftwerk has performed concerts in Wolfsburg, Germany, Manchester, UK, and Randers, Denmark with special 3D background graphics. Members of the audience were able to watch this multimedia part of the show with 3D glasses, which were given out. During the Manchester concert (part of the 2009 Manchester International Festival)[23] four members of the GB cycling squad (Jason Kenny, Ed Clancy, Jamie Staff and Geraint Thomas) rode around the Velodrome while the band performed Tour de France.[24] The group also played several festival dates in 2009, last being Bestival in September 2009.[25]

Kraftwerk finally released The Catalogue box set on 16 November 2009.[17][26][27] It is a 12" LP-sized box set containing all eight remastered CDs in cardboard slipcases, as well as LP-sized booklets of photographs and artwork for each individual album. Due to licensing issues, three of these albums--Computer World, Electric Cafe (now re-christened with its original working title of Techno Pop)[28] and The Mix--are available in the U.S. only as part of the boxed set.

The Techno Pop album contains a slightly revised track listing from its predecessor Electric Cafe: the song "The Telephone Call" now appears in its much shorter single mix, and that single's b-side remix, "House Phone," has been added as a proper album track.

The present

Although not officially confirmed, Ralf Hütter suggested that a second boxed set of their first three experimental albums—Kraftwerk, Kraftwerk 2 and Ralf and Florian—could be on its way, possibly seeing commercial release after their next studio album: "We've just never really taken a look at those albums. They've always been available, but as really bad bootlegs. Now we have more artwork. Emil has researched extra contemporary drawings, graphics, and photographs to go with each album, collections of paintings that we worked with, and drawings that Florian and I did. We took a lot of Polaroids in those days." Kraftwerk also released an iOS app called Kraftwerk Kling Klang Machine.[29] The Lenbach House in Munich exhibited some Kraftwerk 3-D pieces in Autumn 2011. Kraftwerk performed three concerts to open the exhibit.[30].


Like many other so-called Krautrock bands Kraftwerk was heavily influenced by the pioneering compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Hütter has also listed The Beach Boys as a major influence,[31] which is apparent in its 1975 chart smash, Autobahn.

Kraftwerk's lyrics deal with post-war European urban life and technology—traveling by car on the Autobahn, traveling by train, using home computers, and the like. Usually, the lyrics are very minimal but reveal both an innocent celebration of, and a knowing caution about, the modern world, as well as playing an integral role in the rhythmic structure of the songs. Many of Kraftwerk's songs express the paradoxical nature of modern urban life—a strong sense of alienation existing side-by-side with a celebration of the joys of modern technology.[citation needed]

All of Kraftwerk's albums from Radio-Activity onwards have been released in separate versions: one with German vocals for sale in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and one with English vocals for the rest of the world, with occasional variations in other languages when conceptually appropriate.

Live performance has always played an important part in Kraftwerk's activities. Also, despite its live shows generally being based around formal songs and compositions, live improvisation often plays a noticeable role in its performances. This trait can be traced back to the group's roots in the first experimental Krautrock scene of the late 1960s, but, significantly, it has continued to be a part of its playing even as it makes ever greater use of digital and computer-controlled sequencing in its performances. Some of the band's familiar compositions have been observed to have developed from live improvisations at its concerts or sound-checks.[citation needed]

Technological innovations

Throughout their career, Kraftwerk has pushed the limits of music technology with some notable innovations, such as self-made instruments and custom built devices. The group has always perceived their Kling Klang Studio as a complex music instrument as well as a sound laboratory, especially Florian Schneider developed a fascination for music technology, with the result that the technical aspects of sound generation and recording gradually became his main fields of activity within the band.[6]

Early 1970s vocoder, custom built for electronic music band Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk used a custom built vocoder on their albums Ralf und Florian and Autobahn; the device was constructed by electronic engineers P.Leunig and K.Obermayer of the PTB Braunschweig.[32] Hütter and Schneider hold a patent for an electronic drum kit with sensor pads, filed in July 1975 and issued in June 1977.[33] It has to be hit with metal sticks which are connected to the device to complete a circuit that triggers analog synthetic percussion sounds.[34] The band used this electronic drum kit on the album Autobahn, the following tour and it was featured on the BBC television series Tomorrow's World in 1975.[35] On the Radio-Activity tour in 1976 Kraftwerk tested out an experimental light-beam-activated drum cage allowing Flür to trigger electronic percussion through arm and hand movements. Unfortunately, the device did not work as planned, and it was quickly abandoned.[36] The same year Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider commissioned Bonn-based "Synthesizerstudio Bonn, Matten & Wiechers" to design and build the Synthanorma Sequenzer with Intervallomat, a 4x8 / 2x16 / 1x32 step-sequencer system with some features that commercial products couldn't provide at that time.[37] The music sequencer was used by the band for the first time to control the electronic sources creating the rhythmic sound of the album Trans Europe Express.[38]


The band is notoriously reclusive; providing rare and enigmatic interviews, using life size mannequins and robots to conduct official photo shoots, refusing to accept mail and not allowing visitors at Kling Klang Studio, whose precise location they used to keep secret. Another notable example of this eccentric behavior was reported to Johnny Marr of The Smiths by Karl Bartos, who explained that anyone trying to contact the band for collaboration would be told the studio telephone did not have a ringer, since during recording, the band did not like to hear any kind of noise pollution. Instead, callers were instructed to phone the studio precisely at a certain time, whereupon the phone would be answered by Ralf Hütter, despite never hearing the phone ring.[39] Chris Martin, lead singer of UK group Coldplay, anecdotally recalled, in a late 2007 article in Q about Kraftwerk, the process of requesting permission to use the melody from the track "Computer Love" in its 2005 release "Talk" from its album X&Y. He recalled writing them a letter and sending it through the lawyers of the respective parties and several weeks later receiving an envelope containing a handwritten reply that simply said 'yes'.[40]

Influence on other musicians

Kraftwerk's music has directly influenced many popular artists from many diverse genres of music.[41]

Kraftwerk's musical style and image can be heard and seen in later electronic music successes such as Gary Numan, Ultravox, John Foxx, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Human League, Depeche Mode, Visage, and Soft Cell, to name a few. Kraftwerk would also go on to influence other forms of music such as hip hop, house, and drum and bass, and they are also regarded as pioneers of the electro genre.[42] Most notably, "Trans Europe Express" and "Numbers" were interpolated into "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force, one of the earliest hip-hop/electro hits. Techno was created by three musicians from Detroit, often referred to as the 'Belleville three' (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson & Derrick May), who fused the repetitive melodies of Kraftwerk with funk rhythms.[43]

Joy Division and New Order were heavily influenced by Kraftwerk. Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis was a fan of Kraftwerk, and showed his colleagues records that would influence both groups. New Order's song "Your Silent Face" has some similarities with "Europe Endless", the first song on Trans-Europe Express, and had a working title of KW1, or Kraftwerk 1. New Order also recorded a song called "Krafty" that appeared as a single and on the album Waiting for the Sirens' Call. New Order also would sample "Uranium" in their 1983 songs "Blue Monday" and "The Beach".

David Bowie's "V-2 Schneider", which was released as the B-side to the "Heroes" single, and also features on the album "Heroes", is a tribute to Florian Schneider.

Electronic musician Kompressor has cited Kraftwerk as an influence. Kraftwerk is also mentioned in the song "Rappers We Crush" by Kompressor and MC Frontalot ("I hurry away, get in my Chrysler. Oh, the dismay!/Someone's replaced all of my Backstreet Boys with Kraftwerk tapes!").

Franz Ferdinand were inspired by Kraftwerk's song "The Model" when writing their song "Walk Away". The similarity is especially heard in the intro of the song.

Vince Clarke of Erasure, Yazoo, and Depeche Mode, is also a notable disco and Kraftwerk fan and is influenced by their music. Daniel Miller, former boss of Mute Records, purchased the vocoder used by Kraftwerk in their early albums, comparing it to owning Jimi Hendrix's guitar.[44]

Kraftwerk also influenced Depeche Mode, as is some of their album art, such as Behind The Wheel - EP. Alan Wilder mentioned choosing François Kevorkian to work on Depeche Mode's Violator because of his previous work on Kraftwerk's Electric Cafe.

Simple Minds recorded a cover of the Kraftwerk track Neon Lights and included it on an all-cover tunes album by the same name,[45] they also played it live during their Graffiti Soul tour of 2009.

Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, founding members of OMD, have stated that Kraftwerk was a major influence on their early work,[46] and covered "Neon Lights" on their 1991 album, Sugar Tax.[47] Further, a song on the 2010 album History of Modern is entitled RFWK- Ralf (Hütter), Florian (Schneider), Wolfgang (Flür), Karl (Bartos).

Kraftwerk is currently listed as the second most deserving band who has yet to receive enshrinement to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame according to the website, This was based on their high level of influence towards multiple artists.[48]

Dr. Alex Paterson of The Orb listed The Man-Machine as one of his 13 most favourite albums of all time. [49]

Tribute bands

Kraftwerk has spawned a large number of tribute bands over the course of their lengthy career. One of the most notable of these was established by Uwe Schmidt, also known as Senor Coconut, and Atom Heart. Performing as Senor Coconut, Schmidt in 2000 released El Baile Alemán, which was intended as a salute to, and a parody of, Kraftwerk. The album reworked a number of major Kraftwerk songs with Latin instrumentation in such a way that they could potentially be performed live as Latin dance numbers. Joby Burgess' Powerplant recorded three tracks - Tour de France, Radioactivity and Pocket Calculator - alongside Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint and featuring the Elysian Quartet [50] British comedian Bill Bailey has also affectionately parodied the band in his live shows. In 2007, 8-Bit Operators: The Music of Kraftwerk was released by the group "8-Bit Operators" on Kraftwerk's US home label Astralwerks and EMI Records worldwide. It featured cover versions of Kraftwerk songs by several prominent chiptune artists. Kraftwerk's Ralf Hutter personally selected the tracks for the release.[51]

Slovenian avant-garde group Laibach's founding member Tomaz Hostnik claimed that "Ohm sweet Ohm" was one of his favourite songs; therefore this song was used by Laibach in their track dedicated to their deceased member titled "Hostnik" from Krst pod Triglavom OST[52] and in documentary Victory Under The Sun. Laibach also used samples from Kraftwerk's works in their 3.Oktober single from 1990. Laibach's songs appeared also in two compilations dedicated to Kraftwerk which were Trans Slovenia Express vol. 1 and vol. 2. In vol. 1 appeared Laibach's "Zrcalo sveta" which was really their "Apologija Laibach" (written by Hostnik shortly before his death), "3. Oktober" and rework of "Kometenmelodie Part I" made by Laibach's subgroup 300.000 V.K. For vol. 2 Laibach reworked their own song "Brat moj" into "Bruderschaft", which was made as if Kraftwerk created that song themselves. Also, Laibach's concert "Das Kreuzschach und vier Schachspieler" which was based on Laibach's reinterpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Kunst der Fuge" was dedicated, among others, to Kraftwerk.[53]


Current members

  • Ralf Hütter – lead vocals, vocoder, synthesizers, organ, drums and percussion, bass guitar, piano (1970–1971, 1971-present)
  • Fritz Hilpert – electronic percussion, sound engineering (1987–present)
  • Henning Schmitz – electronic percussion, live keyboards (1991–present), sound engineering (1978–present)
  • Stefan Pfaffe – video technician (2008–present)

Past members

  • Florian Schneider – synthesizers, background vocals, vocoder, computer-generated vocals, acoustic and electronic flute,
    live saxophone, percussion, electric guitar, violin (1970–2008)
  • Karl Bartos – electronic percussion, live vibraphone, live keyboards (1975–1991)
  • Wolfgang Flür – electronic percussion (1973–1987)
  • Klaus Röder – electric guitar, electronic violin (1974)
  • Klaus Dinger – drums (1970–1971)
  • Andreas Hohmann – drums (1970)

Listed below are musicians who have played live or in the studio with Kraftwerk, but have not appeared on any official releases by the band.**

  • Fernando Abrantes – electronic percussion, synthesizer (1991)
  • Michael Rother – electric guitar (1971)
  • Emil Schult – electric guitar, electronic violin (1973)
  • Plato Kostic (a.k.a. Plato Riviera) – bass guitar (1970)
  • Peter Schmidt – drums (1970)
  • Houschäng Néjadepour – electric guitar (1970)
  • Charly Weiss – drums (1970)
  • Thomas Lohmann - drums (1970)
  • Eberhard Kranemann – bass guitar (1970)

**Fernando Abrantes and Michael Rother have been featured on several live bootleg recordings.



  • 1994: "Kraftwerk: Man, Machine and Music" by Pascal Bussy
  • 1998: "Kraftwerk: From Düsseldorf to the Future" by Tim Barr
  • 1999: "Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot" by Wolfgang Flür
  • 2000: "A Short Introduction to Kraftwerk" by Vanni Neri & Giorgio Campani
  • 2002: "Kraftwerk: The Music Makers" by Albert Koch
  • 2005: "Kraftwerk Photobook" by Kraftwerk (included in the Minimum-Maximum Notebook set)
  • 2010: Kraftwerk: Music Non-Stop, edited by Sean Albiez and David Pattie


  • Bussy, Pascal (1993). Kraftwerk—Man, Machine & Music. SAF Publishing. ISBN 978-0-946719-70-9. 
  • Flür, Wolfgang (2001). "Kraftwerk": I Was A Robot. Sanctuary Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86074-417-4. 


  1. ^ The Guardian, Desperately Seeking Kraftwerk
  2. ^ NME, Kraftwerk: Minimum-Maximum Live
  3. ^ John McCready on Kraftwerk[dead link]
  4. ^ Harrington, Richard (27 May 2005). "These Days, Kraftwerk is Packing Light". Washington post. p. WE08. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  5. ^ Gill, Andy. "Kraftwerk:". 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Bussy, Pascal (1993). Kraftwerk—Man, Machine & Music. SAF Publishing. ISBN 978-0-946719-70-9. 
  7. ^ a b Flür, Wolfgang (1993). "Kraftwerk": I Was A Robot. Sanctuary Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86074-417-4. 
  8. ^, retrieved on 06-02-07
  9. ^ Discogs, Kraftwerk Technopop - "Formations" Retrieved on 5 March 2009
  10. ^ 2 Cents: Kraftwerk, Tribal Gathering (25 May 1997).
  11. ^ Kraftworld, Kraftwerk 1998 Tour Retrieved on 5 March 2009
  12. ^ a b Discogs, Kraftwerk - Tour de France 1999 Retrieved on 5 March 2009
  13. ^ a b Yamomusic - News Retrieved on 6 March 2009
  14. ^ Discogs, Kraftwerk - Expo 2000 Retrieved on 5 March 2009
  15. ^ Discogs, Kraftwerk - Expo Remix Retrieved on 5 March 2009
  16. ^ Discogs, Kraftwerk - Tour de France Soundtracks Retrieved on 9 March 2009
  17. ^ a b Discogs, Kraftwerk - 12345678 Retrieved on 9 March 2009
  18. ^ a b Discogs, Kraftwerk - Minimum - Maximum Retrieved on 9 March 2009
  19. ^ Illness forces Kraftwerk to miss Melbourne Global Gathering, (2008-11-23)
  20. ^ "Interview". The New Zealand Herald. 2008-09-27. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  21. ^ Kraftwerk's co-founder Florian Schneider leaves band
  22. ^ Editorial, "Nice werk" [sic] (2007, 7 January.) The Independent: 28.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Simpson, Dave (3 July 2009). "Kraftwerk/Steve Reich". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  25. ^ Kraftwerk to headline Bestival, (2009-02-26)
  26. ^
  27. ^ More and more remastered Kraftwerk eight-CD promo boxed sets auctioned via eBay
  28. ^
  29. ^ Witter, Simon (Spring 2006). "article". Dummy (magazine). 
  30. ^ [tt_news=176&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&L=1] Lenbachhaus Kraftwerk Exhibition
  31. ^ Retrieved on 10-10-07
  32. ^, the synthesizer data base, June 25, 2006
  33. ^ Aktivitaet online - Kling Klang, the electronic garden
  34. ^ BBC Tomorrows World - explaining Kraftwerk's electronic drum kit., 1975
  35. ^ BBC Tomorrows World - introducing Kraftwerk, 1975
  36. ^ Aktivitaet online - Information about Kraftwerk's light-beam drum cage
  37. ^ Aktivitaet online - short introduction of the Synthanorma Sequenzer
  38. ^ Synthanorma Sequenzer - description by D. Matten
  39. ^ Channel 4 TV-Show "Top 100 albums of all times", 2005.
  40. ^ Goddard, Simon. "The 21 people who changed music - They are the robots." Q Magazine. November 2007, p. 106.
  41. ^ WhoSampled - Kraftwerk's Sample-Based Music and Cover Songs. Retrieved on 19 September 2009
  42. ^ Fink, R.. "The story of ORCH5, or, the classical ghost in the hip-hop machine. " Popular Music 24.3 (2005): 339-356. 9 Nov. 2009.
  43. ^ "Pop goes electronic" at KEXP
  44. ^ "Synth Britannia", BBC Four, 19 October 2009. Excerpt.
  45. ^ Neon Lights (album)
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ Electric Counterpoint - Powerplant - Steve Reich - Kraftwerk
  51. ^
  52. ^ Krst Pod Triglavom
  53. ^ Laibach - Recent News

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