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Pharrell Williams Toasts ‘Groundbreaking and Revolutionary’ Kraftwerk in Rock Hall Speech

The Neptunes producer and solo artist welcomed the band into the institution, after years of being overlooked, in its Early Influences category

Pharrell Williams speaks on October 28th at Norfolk State University. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Pharrell Williams )

Getty Images for Pharrell Willia

The pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk has influenced everyone from David Bowie and Duran Duran to Afrika Bambaata and David Byrne — yet for years they were overlooked by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The German group was first eligible for induction in 1996 but didn’t make it onto a ballot until 2003 and were included an additional five more times without making it in. This year, the institution welcomed the band in as part of its Early Influences category.


Pharrell Williams here. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a very special place. But I’m going to suggest that we create a new hall within the hall, reserved for artists who actually invented their genre, because Kraftwerk belongs there. Today, electronic music is everywhere. But what Kraftwerk did was groundbreaking and revolutionary.

And for many of us, we were influenced by Kraftwerk without even realizing. Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter created Kraftwerk in Düsseldorf, Germany, and in the early Seventies, starting making experimental music that was unlike anything the world had never heard. It was truly a seismic moment for music, as we know it. But when Afrika Bambaataa reached into a crate of records and found Kraftwerk and funneled that sound into “Planet Rock,” that’s when millions of hip-hop fans around the world, including myself, heard Kraftwerk’s infectious beats and alien vocals for the very first time.

I’m so lucky I got to meet the late Florian Schneider and let him know how much his music meant to all of us. We should all be thankful for Kraftwerk. It’s why this recognition is so important. Welcome Kraftwerk to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

From Rolling Stone US