Roland Corporation Founder Ikutaro Kakehashi Dies at 87


Ikutaro-Kakehashi Roland Corp

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.

Read: Producers Pay Homage to Roland’s TR-909

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.