Klaus Dinger(R.I.P) ............ not just a name!
Klaus Dinger (24 March 1946 – 21 March 2008) was a German musician and songwriter most famous for his contributions to the seminal krautrock band Neu!. He was also the guitarist and chief songwriter of new wave group La Düsseldorf and briefly the percussionist of Kraftwerk.
1946–1971: The No, The Smash, and Kraftwerk
Klaus Dinger was born in Scherfede, Westphalia, Germany, to Heinz and Renate Dinger on 24 March 1946. He was their first child.
Before he was a year old, his parents moved from the town, which had been badly damaged by an Allied siege at the end of World War II, to the economic centre of the region, Düsseldorf.
In 1956 he attended Görres Gymnasium School for the first time. During his time there he was part of an a cappella choir, which he had to leave when his voice broke. He was part of the school swing band (as a drummer) despite having no prior musical experience. He left the school with a Mittlere Reife (German equivalent of leaving school at 16), later accusing the school of misinterpreting his "free mindedness" as misbehaviour.
After leaving school in 1963 Dinger began to learn carpentry from his father. He also became more interested in music, and practiced drums with spare bits of wood until he could afford a drum kit. In 1966 he formed a band with friends Norbert Körfer, Lutz Bellman and Jo Maassen: The No. The band was influenced largely by English rock acts such as The Kinks and The Rolling Stones. The band sent a demo tape to EMI but the record label never replied. He also worked in a free jazz ensemble, making what he later called "noise". During a concert in Düsseldorf with this ensemble, he spotted Florian Schneider, with whom he would later work in Kraftwerk, sitting in the audience (Dinger said that Schneider "Had a face I will never forget"). Schneider was at that time part of a free jazz ensemble called Pissoff fronted by another future collaborator Eberhard Kranemann.
In 1966 Dinger also started studying architecture at Krefeld. However, in 1968 he took 6 months leave, after experiencing LSD for the first time, in order to become more proficient as a drummer. In 1969 The No split up and he joined cover band The Smash and began touring southern Germany. During this period he realised that he could make a living as a musician alone, and never returned to his architecture studies.
In Summer 1970 Dinger received a telephone call from Ralf Hütter. Hütter was bandmates with Florian Schneider in Kraftwerk and was three-quarters of the way through recording their debut album. Their previous drummer (Andreas Hohmann) had left to join sister-group Ibliss after only two of the album's tracks had been made. Hütter and Schneider set out to find a new drummer; in the meantime they recorded a third track without the use of a drummer.
Dinger's role would be to record the drum part for the fourth and final track: "Vom Himmel Hoch". Dinger recalls:
...I recorded the drums on side 2. Ralf and Conny Plank, the producer, were very pleased with the results. Florian was away on holiday at the time and when he came back, he didn't like it at all. I recorded the same tracks again and they sounded exactly the same. Florian, however, was very pleased but that's another story, a "Ralf & Florian story".
Having impressed both Hütter and Schneider, Dinger was installed as a permanent member of the band. The homeless drummer moved into the house of Florian's parents, Florian leaving shortly after, but Klaus was kept on as a lodger. Here he met Anita Heedman. Anita, or "Hanni", was a friend of Florian's sister (who died in 2002). Hanni would be Klaus Dinger's girlfriend for most of his time in Neu! and Kraftwerk.
After touring extensively with the band, Ralf Hütter suddenly decided that "he couldn't play anymore" and left the group. This left Schneider and Dinger without a guitarist or bass player. They toured with what Dinger called "a floating line-up" of ever changing musicians.
The line-up settled down somewhat by June 1971, and it stood as Dinger on drums, Schneider on flute and organ, Eberhard Kranemann (Florian Schneider's bandmate from Pissoff) on bass and Michael Rother on guitar, who had been poached from local band Spirits of Sound. Kranemann's talents as a bass player were not always needed and in 1972 the trio of Dinger, Schneider and Rother appeared on German TV show Beat Club.
The performance was different from the Kraftwerk style and is seen by many as a transition from that towards Neu!'s style. The track had originally been titled "Rückstoß Gondoliero", but was mis-pronounced by the television announcer as "Truckstop Gondolero" and has subsequently been known as the latter. Shortly afterwards Michael and Klaus seceded from Kraftwerk to form their own group: Neu!. Ralf Hütter returned to Kraftwerk at the request of Schneider, who was now without a guitarist or drummer. Kraftwerk would continue, recording Kraftwerk 2 at around the same time as Neu!'s debut album. The lack of a drummer would force them to pioneer the use of drum machines and electric percussion, and, in 1974, they made their chart debut with Autobahn.
In June 1971 Dinger's girlfriend moved with her family (her father, a banker, was unhappy about her being with Klaus) to Norway. Here Dinger visited her in the summer of 1971. During this holiday, Dinger recorded the "watery" sounds featuring on several of his subsequent songs (Im Glück, Lieber Honig, Gedenkminute, Lieber Honig 1981) whilst on a rowing boat with Anita. The pair would continue to see each other irregularly, and often with long intervals between meetings, through 1971, 1972 and 1973.
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