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Ikutaro Kakehashi: Roland founder and music pioneer dies aged 87

Posted: Sunday 2nd April

Ikutaro Kakehashi: Roland founder and music pioneer dies aged 87

The music world is mourning the loss of Roland founder and electronic instrument pioneer Ikutaro Kakehashi, who has died aged 87.

Kakehashi was the pioneer behind the Roland Atelier range which many of our artistes today still appear on stage with, his passion for the instrument was legendary. The Japanese engineer famously created many popular drum machines, including the iconic TR-808. Its sound is a staple of hip-hop and electronic music, used by everyone from Kanye West to Marvin Gaye.

Kakehashi received a technical Grammy in 2013 for contributions to electronic music technology. Dave Smith - Kakehashi's co-winner - told the BBC he "was just an amazing man, a good friend, a very good competitor of course and just innovative continually all that time".

Before leading Roland for 40 years, Mr Kakehashi founded Ace Tone in the 1960s. The firm made amplifiers and primitive drum machines, laying the groundwork for the engineer's future success.

Today musicians have shared their tributes to Mr Kakehashi online, calling his impact immeasurable.

Marc Almond of synthpop duo Soft Cell called him "a man who changed music".

Martyn Ware, who played keyboards for The Human League, told the BBC: "Roland was central to everything that we did for the whole of the first two albums - they featured on every track."

"We were loyal to them like people would be loyal to a football team."

In a farewell to Mr Kakehashi, his colleague for almost four decades, Roland developer Tommy Snyder wrote: "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."


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