Kraftwerk (“power station”) is a German band formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Widely considered to be innovators and pioneers of electronic music, they were among the first successful acts to popularize the genre. The group began as part of West Germany’s experimental krautrock scene in the early 1970s before fully embracing electronic instrumentation, including synthesizers, drum machines, vocoders, and self-made instruments. On commercially successful albums such as Autobahn (1974), Trans-Europe Express (1977), and The Man-Machine (1978), Kraftwerk developed a self-described “robot pop” style that combined electronic music with pop melodies, sparse arrangements, and repetitive rhythms, while adopting a stylized image including matching suits.
The band’s work would exert a lasting and profound influence across many genres of modern music, including synthpop, hip hop, post-punk, techno, ambient, and club music, and inspired a wide and diverse range of artists. According to The Observer, “no other band since the Beatles has given so much to pop culture.” Following the release of Electric Café (1986), member Wolfgang Flür left the group in 1987. Their last album Tour de France Soundtracks was released in 2003. Founding member Schneider departed in 2008. In 2014, the Recording Academy honored Kraftwerk with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. As of 2018, the remaining members of the band continue to tour.