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’s iconic drum machine, launched in 1980, was first used in a hit by Marvin Gaye on ‘Sexual Healing’. 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. In 2013, he and Sequential Circuits founder Dave Smith received a technical Grammy for their work on MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology.
Several musicians including Vince Staples, Darude and Hudson Mohawke have paid tribute to the innovator. Soft Cell’s Marc Almond used the 808 on ‘Tainted Love’, and called Kakehashi a “man who changed music.”
Tommy Synder, who works at Roland as a developer, gave an emotional tribute on Facebook, saying he considered Kakehashi “as my 2nd father.” He added: “He was a super funny, wonderful and gifted human being, and his contributions to the musical instrument world , and music, touched millions of people worldwide.”
See a selection of tributes from the music world below.
Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland, and more recently, ATV Corporation, father of the TR-909,TR-808,Godfather of MIDI,…
Imagine there'd never bn a 808 909 101 303 etc. Wud all b stuck listening to guitars. (How many can I offend) RIP Roland's Ikutaro Kakehashi
— Hudson Mohawke (@HudMo) April 1, 2017
A man who changed Music Ikutaro Kakehashi the Man behind the Roland Synth,808 and more has sadly passed. Thanks for the Electro sounds.????
— Marc Almond (@MarcAlmond) April 2, 2017
RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi. like many others, am in his debt. the thing that started me in electronic music was a roland alpha juno 2
— matthew herbert (@matthewherbert) April 1, 2017
— Darude (@Darudevil) April 2, 2017