Tangerine Dream's Edgar Froese dead at 70

Edgar Froese, founding member of influential German electronic music band Tangerine Dream, died Tuesday in Vienna, Austria, of a pulmonary embolism at age 70, according to the band's official website.

"This is a message to you we are very sorry for," the message states. "The sadness in our hearts is immense. Edgar once said: 'There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address.' Edgar, this is little comfort to us."

Along with Kraftwerk in the 1970s, Tangerine Dream experimented with electronic rock and dance music using analog and later digital synthesizers that laid a template for a generation of musicians and bands to come.

Their music was part of a movement that came to be called "krautrock," a term Froese hated. "I personally think it is one of the most silly and stupid descriptions the music media ever came up with," he told an Australian writer in November. "No idea what it's supposed to be."

"Although often criticized," states the Encyclopedia of Popular Music's entry on Tangerine Dream, "the band was pivotal in refining a sound that effectively pioneered new-age ambient electronic music more than a decade later. Their importance in this field should not be underestimated."

Froese was the only regular member of the band's ever-shifting lineup, and he also released a string of solo albums under the name Edgar W. Froese. He scored music for films that included "Risky Business," "Legend" and "Firestarter," and more recently the band contributed music to the soundtrack of the "Grand Theft Auto V" videogame.

Edgar Willmar Froese was born in Tilsit, East Prussia, during World War II on June 6, 1944 -- the day of the D-Day Allied invasion at Normandy, France. He was a vegetarian, teetotaler, nonsmoker and said he did not take drugs.

Inspired by the boundary-pushing '60s music of the Doors, the Grateful Dead and other rock groups, Froese assembled Tangerine Dream in 1967, at a time when electronic synthesizers were first finding their way into popular music.

Reaction to Froese's death was quick, and emotional, among synthesizer enthusiasts in Anaheim at the 2015 National Assn. of Music Merchants convention, the annual gathering of the global music industry.

"I feel like the rug has been pulled out," said Jack Hotop, 60, senior voicing manager at KORG USA. "It’s a great loss to the synthesizer or electronic music community.

"Today, technology has evolved to where music workstations and synthesizers have an abundance of sounds an libraries available," Hotop said. "Edgar was getting in on the ground floor before synthesizers had presets. You had to turn the knobs. You had to craft your sound and really create your own fingerprint in a way that set you apart from anyone else. Edgar and Tangerine Dream had a really unique sound that was different from the other bands that were emerging at that point in the timeline.”

"When I finally did get to meet him," he said, "he was even nicer than I expected. It’s wonderful when you meet someone that they’re as wonderful as the music and the sounds they create.”

Rockstar Games' music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich brought Froese on to collaborate for the original score of the hit video game "Grand Theft Auto V." "Everyone at Rockstar Games is deeply saddened by the news of Edgar Froese’s passing," Pavlovich said. "It was a privilege to have worked alongside one of the true pioneers of electronic music. Getting the chance to know and collaborate with Edgar was a dream come true." 

Froese's son Jerome issued a statement saying, "Dear friends & colleagues, the Captain has left the ship ... And as you already know: Life plays no encores. Rest in peace Edgar, you will be sadly missed."

Times staff writers Ryan Faughnder and August Brown contributed to this report.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


3:08 p.m.: Story updated with citation from the Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

4:09 p.m.: Story updated with reaction from electronic music enthusiasts at the 2015 NAMM show in Anahehim.

10:46 a.m. Mon., Jan 26.: Story updated with remarks from Rockstar Games' Ivan Pavlovich.