Roland founder, digital music pioneer Ikutaro Kakehashi dies

07 April, 2017, 02:40 | Author: Kristopher Anderson
  • R.I.P. Ikutaro Kakehashi

The TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines, as well as the TB-303 bass synthesizer, are a few examples of instruments invented by Roland under Kakehashi's leadership.

The founder of the Roland electronic musical instrument company, Ikutaro Kakehashi, has died, aged 87.

In the same year, Kakehashi left Roland and set up the new digital instrument company ATV, reportedly because of a clash with Roland management.

According to this in-depth history of Roland published in 2004, Kakehashi was born in Osaka in 1930.

Kakehashi founded Roland in 1972 and remained with the company until 2014.

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"Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland, father of the TR-909, TR-808, Godfather of MIDI. passed away at the age of 87", Tommy Snyder, drummer for the popular Japanese band Godiego wrote on his Facebook page. According to a biographical account in the Times Higher Education Supplement, he was orphaned at 2 and almost died of tuberculosis at 20 and ran an electrical appliance store, repairing watches and building radios, before making musical instruments in his late 20s. Only 12,000 TR-808 Rhythm Composer units were made because as semiconductor manufacturing improved, the distinctively defective transistor became unavailable.

Kakehashi, reputed to have devoted his life to the pursuit of live entertainment, had a definitive impact on shaping the sound of electronic, hip hop and dance music.

In 2013, together with Dave Smith, Kakehashi received a Technical Grammy Award for the creation of MIDI, retiring from Roland that same year. More recently, Kanye West's 2008 album 808s and Heartbreak paid tribute to the machine. While heading up Roland, Kakehasi proposed the idea of standardization in electronic sounds. The music world has spilled over with gratitude and prayers for Kakehashi and his family in the days since.

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

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