Ikutaro Kakehashi, Roland Founder and Electronics Pioneer, Dead at 87

Ikutaro Kakehashi, Roland Founder and Electronics Pioneer, Dead at 87

Ikutaro Kakehashi, an influential figure in the 1980s pop music scene and founder of electronic instrument makers Roland Corp. and ATV Corp., has died at the age of 87, an ATV spokeswoman told The Japan Times on Monday.

The Roland TR-808, perhaps Kakehashi's most iconic and lasting creation.

Ikutaro Kakehashi, who founded the Roland Corporation in 1972, has died aged 87.

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Ikutaro Kakehashi was born on February 7, 1930. Among his accomplishments are the Ace Tone and Roland drum machines, and also the MIDI standard. The device was popularized by early hits such as Marvin Gaye's hit Sexual Healing (1982) and Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force's groundbreaking Planet Rock (1982). The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer as one of the earliest programmable drum machines.

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.

Rapper Kanye West's 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak showcases the machine throughout. Kakehashi was also the first person to propose the standardisation of protocols between electronic instruments, which became MIDI. A 2015 promotional video describes how surprised Kakehashi and his co-creators were when the machine, originally meant to fill in for backing musicians, took center stage in entirely new genres.

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Beyond his influence in specific genres, Kakehashi arguably played a major role in the advancement of electronics and studio wizardry as a major part of music production.

In January of this year, Kakehashi published An Age Without Samples: Originality and Creativity in the Digital World, while in 2013, he was awarded a Technical Grammy along with Dave Smith for his contributions to MIDI and electronic music technology.

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