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Ikutaro Kakehashi, Founder of Roland and Developer of the TR-808, Has Died at Age 87

Kakehashi's death has been confirmed by Roland developer Tommy Snyder.

by Britt Julious
Apr 2 2017, 3:27pm

Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of Roland and the man behind the classic drum machine TR-808 and the synthesizer TB-303, died at the age of 87. Roland developer Tommy Snyder, among others, have confirmed his passing on Facebook.

Prior to founding and running Roland for 40 years, Kakehashi founded Ace Tone, a firm that created amplifiers and minimal drum machines.

Kakehashi and Roland are perhaps best known for the Roland TR-808, a drum machine that continues to find traction and usability well into the new century. It was popularized throughout the hip-hop, electronic, pop, and r&b communities on songs such as Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force's "Planet Rock" and Nine Inch Nails' "Closer."

In 2008, rapper and producer Kanye West solidified his love of the drum machine on his experimental and influential record, 808s & Heartbreak. The TR-808 is unquestionably one of the most influential inventions in contemporary popular music.

Kakehashi received a Technical Grammy in 2013 for his contributions to the creation of the MIDI. Kakehashi's most recent book, An Age Without Samples: Originality and Creativity in the Digital World, was released in January.

"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,"Snyder wrote. "RIP dear Taro."