Roland founder, pioneer and 808 creator Ikutaro Kakehashi has died

One of modern music’s biggest influencers, the Japanese engineer behind some of the world’s most iconic drum machines and synths has died.

Roland’s original founder, Japanese engineer Ikutaro Kakehashi, has died at the age of 87. His legacy has helped form entire genres, influencing much of the dance music of the 80’s and 90’s as well as hip-hop with the legendary drum machines he created – in particular the Roland TR-808.

Kakehashi founded the Roland Corporation in 1972 and quickly became a dominant force in music with a range of vastly popular drum machines and synthesisers. His most prominent creation is likely the TR-808 drum machine which became a signature sound in hip-hop and dance music during the 80’s. The 808 became so influential thanks to it’s impressive versatility and robust design that wasn’t gated off by a high price tag.

Tributes poured in from voices across the global music community after the news of Kakehashi’s death was revealed by a former colleague of his on Facebook. Graham Massey of the clearly influenced 80’s dance act 808 State, said: “The Roland gear began to be a kind of Esperanto in music. The whole world began to be less separated through this technology, and there was a classiness to it – you could transcend your provincial music with this equipment.”

Meanwhile Twitter was awash with respect and tributes for the major influencer, including Soft Cell’s Marc Almond and award winning producer Paul Epworth:

https://twitter.com/MarcAlmond/status/848434062113087488

The legacy left behind by Kakehashi’s work at Roland is still heard today with world famous artists like Kanye West still embracing his technology, most clear on his album ‘808s and heartbreak’. Roland also began re-issuing the 808’s younger brother the TR-909 last year with some upgrades alongside a re-issue of their TB-303 bass synth.

Moog Synthesizers, competitor and industry associates of Roland, also paid their respects to Kakehashi in a tweet:

Head of Social Media and Marketing, RouteNote

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