Ikutaro Kakehashi, the pioneering engineer, musical instrument developer and founder of Roland Corporation, Ace Tone and ATV, has died at the age of 87. The sad news was shared via a Facebook post from Roland developer Tommy Snyder:
Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland, father of the TR-909,TR-808,Godfather of MIDI, and someone who I have collaborated with for 38 years, and also considered him as my 2nd father, passed away at the age of 87. 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. RIP dear Taro……….
Kakehashi began his career repairing organs in the 1950’s, later launching Ace Tone, an organ company that evolved into Hammond Organ Japan. He left Hammond to start Roland in the early 1970s. At the helm of Roland he brought to market a series of drum machines, including the Roland CR-78 and the iconic Roland TR-808, which would inspire a generation of hip-hop and electronic music producers.
In the early ’80s he worked with fellow instrument innovator Dave Smith to develop MIDI, a protocol that allows digital musical instruments and assorted devices to communicate with each other. Kakehashi and Smith later received Technical Grammy Awards in 2013 for their key roles in the development of MIDI.
Roland Corporation has not made a public statement as of yet, but there’s been an outpouring of love on social media for this influential man.
Rest in Peace Ikutaro Kakehashi, Founder of Roland, and indelible inspiration on my ACID RAGGA explorations. Thank you for synth heaven.
— The Bug(official) (@thebugzoo) April 1, 2017
RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi #Roland It was an honor to know you and work for you over the years.
— dean coleman (@thedeancoleman) April 1, 2017
RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi of Roland. The man responsible for the 101, 303, 808, 909 and many other beloved machines we use to make our music.
— erol alkan (@erolalkan) April 1, 2017
Without Ikutaro Kakehashi the past 60+ years of modern music would’ve sounded a whole lot different. RIP.https://t.co/iu59FJPL6b
— Ninja Tune (@ninjatune) April 1, 2017
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