Ikutaro Kakehashi, Founder of electronic instrument company Roland, has died at the age of 87. His career began as an engineer, making electronic drums and rhythm pattern generators, but transformed when, in 1972, he founded Roland and became a corporate leader.
Besides creating an industry-leading company in electronic music, Kakehashi was also instrumental in the development of MIDI, a standard that allows hardware and software to communicate, and can claim responsibility for the Roland TR-808 drum machine, as its creator in 1980. You can hear the 808 in iconic pieces, such as Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” or Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” and it continues to be a popular, and cult, classic for artists today.
Under Kakehashi’s leadership, Roland pioneered many more drum machines, synthesizers and audio interfaces, and it extended into the guitar field with sister company BOSS.
Before retiring in 2013, Kakehashi was awarded a Technical Grammy and a spot on Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame.