I’ve just heard the sad news that Klaus Dinger died from heart failure on March 21st. He was one of the giants of the seventies experimental music scene in Germany. He was briefly in Kraftwerk alongside Florian Schneider and Michael Rother during a short period when Ralf Hutter had left. On Hutter’s return, Dinger and Rother formed Neu!, one of the most influential of all the seventies German bands. Although their personal relationship was tempestuous, the pair stayed together long enough to produce three albums, two of which (Neu! and 75) are widely regarded as masterpieces. The band’s sound was pretty much defined by Dinger’s robotic, cyclical drumming (later to become known as motorik) which was a huge influence on many subsequent drummers, such as Steven Morris of Joy Division / New Order.
While Rother pursued a solo career, Dinger formed La Düsseldorf with his brother Thomas and a second drummer Hans Lampe. He invented a fictional fourth member – Nickolas Van Rhein – so it wouldn’t appear that he was doing nearly everything himself. It’s one of the many quirks of a complex character that he could be self-effacing and egotistical at the same time.
La Düsseldorf aren’t as highly regarded these days, but the first two albums in particular contain a lot of strong material. The first, eponymous, album is the better, largely because it is mainly instrumental (vocals and especially lyrics were never Dinger’s strongest suit), but Viva had the classic “Rheinita”, possibly the bands finest seven minutes (and the subject of a previous post here).
Musically the eighties and beyond weren’t that kind to him. His relationship with Rother deteriorated further when he allowed the release of some unfinished archive Neu! material without consulting his former bandmate, much to Rother’s fury. The two did manage to collaborate on the Neu! reissue project a few years back, which involved press and publicity, but they were never really reconciled.
Klaus Dinger was no different to many artists who produced classic work when young, only to struggle to match it throughout their subsequent career. But what classics!
Leb’ Wohl Klaus