Ikutaro Kakehashi, Founder Of Roland, Dies At 87

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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.

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.

Ikutaro Kakehashi, the engineer and entrepreneur who founded electronic musical instruments manufacturer the Roland Corporation in 1972 (and, most recently, the ATV Corporation in 2014), has died.

Kakehashi was born in Osaka in 1930.

Its FR-1 Rhythm Ace machine, which featured four buttons to manually play each drum sound - cymbal, claves, cowbell and bass drum - was adopted by Hammond Organ Company to be incorporated into its range of home organs. 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. The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer as one of the earliest programmable drum machines.

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The 808 was widely embraced in hip-hop, particularly after the release of Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force in 1982. The iconic sound forever changed music production, especially hip-hop and electronic dance music, and has been used by everyone from Kanye West to Hudson Mohawke.

He began experimenting with making musical instruments in the 1950s and eventually his Kakehashi Radio Shop became Ace Electronics, which started making electric organs in 1960.

Numerous musicians have paid tribute since the news of Kakehashi's death broke.

In 2013, Kakehashi and Mr Smith received a Technical Grammy Award for their work on Midi three decades earlier.