Music pioneer Ikutaro Kakehashi dies at 87

Posted April 07, 2017

At Roland, he presided over a golden age of product innovation, giving the world not only the TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines, but also helping to create (among others) the TB-303, Jupiter-8 and D-50 synths.

Tommy Snyder, a former adviser for Roland, revealed the tragic news on Saturday, as first pointed out by Synthtopia.

Kakehashi left Roland and founded ATV in 2013 after a clash with Roland's management. The Roland Corporation produced many types of drum machines, including the Roland CR-78 and the iconic Roland TR-808.

Kakehashi was born in Osaka in 1930.

Kakehashi began his career in electronics repairing electronic organs in the 1950s, while running an electrical appliance shop.

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Kakehashi founded the Roland Corporation in 1972 and received a technical Grammy in 2013 for contributions to electronic music technology. This led to his founding of Ace Tone, where he made early versions of drum machines, with pre-set rhythms that were eventually incorporated into Hammond organs.

The 808 was widely embraced in hip-hop, particularly after the release of Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force in 1982. "Thanks for the Electro sounds".

The sounds of the 808 continue to be heard in R&B, pop and electronic dance music and they are starkly in the foreground in the current production style called trap. Later it would become the focal point of Kanye West's "808s and Heartbreak" album, as well as being used in songs by Beastie Boys, Outkast and Talking Heads. His influence is beyond reproach, As the news of his death spread over the weekend, a number of musicians paid tribute to the legend on social media.

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

He was also a co-inventor of the MIDI standard in the early 1980s with Dave Smith of Sequential Circuits, a development that earned both a Technical Grammy Award in 2013.