Ikutaro Kakehashi: Roland Pioneer Dies Aged 87

As the electronic music industry comes to terms with the death of one of its technological pioneers, Ikutaro Kakehashi, The Waveform Transmitter’s Andy Weights reflects on the legacy left by a legendary figure.

The electronic music world is mourning the death of Ikutaro Kakehashi, the Roland founder and electronic instrument pioneer.

The man behind MIDI and the iconic TR-808 rhythm controller had for more than 40 years had led and developed the production of amplifiers, keyboards and drum machines for Roland.

It all began in the 1950s, fixing organs and creating prototype electronic instruments. It was through this adventuring, that he started Ace Tone Organ Company which later transformed into Hammond Organ Japan. He switched over to Roland in the 1970s and saw his inventions flourish with technical advances that forwarded the musical diversity of the globe.

Famed for creating the pre-set rhythm-pattern generator which evolved into the famous TR808 and CR-78 drum machines, wildly used by artists from the 70s and still greatly revered today by electronic music acts, these instruments will go down as his greatest accomplishment.

The creation of MIDI or musical instrument digital interface, was very influential on the sonic nascence of the 80s and 90s. Ikutaro alongside Oberheim founder Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith the Sequential Circuits president were all pivotal in its conception and production. Both Smith and Ikutaro received a technical Grammy award in 2013 for their efforts.

Later in life the electronic, circuit maestro had also become interested in audio visuals, founding the ATV company.

Ikutaro published an autobiography titled I Believe in Music in 2002. He was 87 years old and left a legacy of inventions and pioneering instruments that have changed the face of music for over 50 years. RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi, give us a “saw wave” from the afterlife.

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