Roland founder and music pioneer Ikutaro Kakehashi dies aged 87

Ikutaro Kakehashi, Founder of Roland, Dies at 87

The legendary engineer and entrepreneur who pioneered the ubiquitous TR-808 and 909 drum machines and TB-303 bass synthesiser had led Roland for 41 years until his retirement 2013.

Roland developer Tommy Snyder paid tribute to his colleague of nearly four decades on Facebook, where he wrote: "He was a super amusing, wonderful and gifted human being, and his contributions to the musical instrument world, and music, touched millions of people worldwide".

Ikutaro Kakehashi founded the Roland Corporation in 1972.

Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of music tech company Roland and its ubiquitous drum machine the TR-808, has passed away at the age of 87.

Kakehashi founded the Roland corporation in 1972 with a vision for production that shaped modern music as we know it.


Mr. Kakehashi was born in Osaka, Japan, on February 7, 1930.

Before leading Roland for 40 years, Kakehashi founded amplifier brand Ace Tone in the 1960s. Despite barriers to formal education, he pursued an engineering career that included watch and radio fix before he started developing amplifiers and electric organs in the 1950s. According to one source, the TR-808 drum machine has been utilized on more hit records - including Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" and Afrikaa Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" - than any other drum machine. It was doing so that he considered how electronic sounds could be taken further.

Mr. Kakehashi received a Grammy in 2013 for developing MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, which digitally connects instruments. More recently, Kanye West's 2008 album 808s and Heartbreak paid tribute to the machine.

He began experimenting with making musical instruments in the 1950s and eventually his Kakehashi Radio Shop became Ace Electronics, which started making electric organs in 1960.

"The options have widened", Kakehashi said of electronic music at a Roland seminar in 2012.

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