Krawinkel's father was a sailor in his hometown of Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony. Krawinkel's music career started in the mid-1960s in nearby Bremerhaven, where he played the guitar in a band called "The Vampyr". He then teamed up with vocalist Stephan Remmler in a Rolling Stones-influenced band called MacBeats (later renamed Just Us[disambiguation needed]). The band was successful in Northern Germany, during its existence, Just Us played a two-week engagement at Star-Club in Hamburg. In 1969, Just Us disbanded, and Krawinkel started a new band called Cravinkel with some of its former members, including Remmler. Cravinkel's folk and progressive rock influences did not break them into the mainstream, despite the release of two studio albums. In 1972, after only three years, Cravinkel disbanded.
Krawinkel subsequently got a teaching job, but still played guitar in several bands, including the Emsland Hillbillies and George Meyer & Company. In 1979, he teamed with his former bandmate Stephan Remmler in an attempt to get back into the commercial music business. After an intensive training phase, they formed the band Trio with drummer Peter Behrens. It developed in early 1982 as one of the best known representations of German new wave. While Remmler contributed the most to the lyrics, Krawinkel came up with the music for about half of the songs. When Trio was on a creative break in 1984, he collaborated with Marius Müller-Westernhagen, playing lead guitar in his band. He was featured on his album "Die Sonne so rot" (The Sun is so Red) and went on his "Westernhagen" album tour in Germany. In 1985, Trio broke up.
In 1989 Krawinkel moved from Großenkneten to Berlin. In 1993, he worked with a friend Wilfried Szyslo who was a musician, on a solo album called Kralle. Krawinkel had written the lyrics for the album entirely in English, but allowed another friend Rio Reiser to translate them into German. He sang a duet with Nena on the single ’N Zentimeter Liebe.
In 1998 Krawinkel got an entry in the Guinness Book of Records by riding the longest distance from Seville to Hamburg by horse.
Krawinkel later operated a private music studio in his adopted home near Seville, and also maintained a home in Berlin. He was largely withdrawn from music. His widow is television producer Monika Kölling, with whom he had a son. They met in 1985 during the shooting of the Trio feature film Drei gegen Drei (Three Against Three). Kölling was responsible for handling the extras.
- 1970 LP Cravinkel: Cravinkel (1997 re-released on CD)
- 1971 LP Cravinkel: Garden Of Loneliness
- 1972 LP George Meyer & Company: Holly Holy
- 1993 CD Kralle
- 1971 Cravinkel: Keep On Running
- 1993 Cadillac
- 1993 'n Zentimeter Liebe feat. Nena