The photo above of Kraftwerk popped up on my friend Justin Strauss’s Facebook page. I loved the energy in the picture, the mix of uptown, downtown, black and white, and was curious about its history. So I asked Justin if he knew anything regarding the genesis of the photograph. He did indeed.
A deejay, musician and producer (he did a dance mix of one of my songs back in the 80s), Justin describes the night Laura Levine snapped the picture :
Everyone in New York was buzzing about this show. Krarftwerk had not played in the city since an early tour in the 70’s, and by this point, in the summer of 1981, their influence was huge.
I was lucky enough to be one of the main dj’s at the Ritz club. Night after night, the most amazing talent played in that place and I would dj before and after the shows. I mean everyone from Prince, U2, Depeche Mode, Human League, Public Image Ltd (I dj’d at this legendary show as well), Tina Turner, on and on. I had the best seat in the house, the dj booth at the Ritz.
When it was announced that Kraftwerk would play two shows there in support of their newly released “Computer World” album, I flipped. So excited to be able to see this show.
It did not disappoint. I invited as many of my dj friends as I could over the course of the two nights. Afrika Bambaataa, Francois K., Ivan Ivan, Larry Levan all hung out as we watched Kraftwerk’s amazing performance.
It was the first tour they used the Kraftwerk “dummies”, and the whole theme and set design was some sort of U-Boat feel to it if I remember correctly. When they performed their song “Pocket Calculator” Florian came out to the audience and let the crowd press the buttons on the small keyboard he held in his hand.
The show and the music were ground breaking and anyone who was there could not help but be totally mesmerized and influenced by what they saw and heard. I"m glad I was one of them.
Levine’s photo and Justin’s remembrance ultimately led me to the documentary Krautrock - The Rebirth Of Germany. Did Walt Whitman imagine a future world where machines and men would blissfully merge when he joyously exclaimed “I SING the Body electric?”