Roland Founder Ikutaro Kakehashi Has Died

Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi has died at the age of 87.

There hasn’t been an official announcement from Roland on this yet, but there have been several reports of Kakehashi’s death from musicians that have worked with him.

Tommy Snyder, who has worked with Roland on R&D of its electronic drum and percussion products, shared this message via Facebook:

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..

Ikutaro Kakehashi was an engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Roland Corporation.

Under his leadership, Roland introduced many of the most iconic gear in electronic music, including:

  • The System 700 modular synthesizer;
  • The TB-303 bassline synthesizer;
  • The TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines; and
  • The Jupiter-8 & D-50 synthesizers.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because Kakehashi led the company successfully for over four decades.

Kakehashi, along with Dave Smith, was awarded a Technical GRAMMY in 2013 for contributions to the development of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology.

In more recent years, Kakehashi remained active, founding a new company, ATV Corporation, dedicated to creating expressive electronic instruments, including the aFrame electronic percussion instrument.

32 thoughts on “Roland Founder Ikutaro Kakehashi Has Died

  1. This is a great loss. It’s so sad because he will not be able to see what becomes of his company’s amazing new music instrument, the aFrame. I’m reading his new book right now, and it’s going to take on a new significance I think. The guy was an inspirational businessman.

  2. Is this confirmed? Odd-timing for this type of headline, and if true it might have been sensible to sit on it until April 2, especially for this site with it’s traditions.

    If this is a gag, it’s in pretty poor taste, even for my crasser than usual standards.

      1. I meant no disrespect. At the time Synthtopia released this news report, it was the FIRST to report it– so I wasn’t able to confirm it anywhere else. And it came in amongst a series of April Fool’s headlines.

        In hindsight, I shouldn’t have commented at all. Apologies, and condolences.

  3. This gentleman created the iconic gear of my youth. I still have my 808, bought new in ’85 as it was languishing unloved at Derby Organ Centre.

    *deep bow*

  4. sad day but you leave an enduring legacy of amazing products which were instrumental in the creation of thousands of wonderful songs.

    1. “instrumental” indeed.

      RIP, Mr. Kakehashi. You are and will be missed. The example you set inspires us.

  5. My very first synth was the Roland HS60 (Juno 106) back in 1985 when I was 14. Changed my life. Ever since I’ve been in love with all the Roland classic sounds which I’ve heard on thousands of 12″ singles in R&B, rap, pop, etc. Godspeed, Mr. Kakehachi; you are a God!
    #808 #909 #106 #303 #707 #606 #Jupiter8 #D50 #JD800

  6. a special prayer for a peaceful eternal rest of person who has given to me many lesson in the human and professional fields since I met him in 1976 and start a long and fruitful personal and business association.
    Antonio Monzino

  7. Thank you for your immense contribution to music. My introuction to synthesizers was the SH-3A about 15 years ago. Changed my life.

    Once again: thank you.

    Rest in peace.

  8. My SH-5 is emitting a low sad note, the System 100m’s lfo’s are pulsing extra slow and my Juno 6 is playing a heavenly chord for you, Kakehashi san. Farewell…

  9. Roland please re-release the Jupiter 8 as a tribute to this wonderful man. (i mean damn everyone has tried every other angle to wake up Roland to remake it ….maybe this is worth a shot)

  10. What a legend…..RIP…….I can imagine everyone at Roland is mourning this big time.

    I wonder what he made of techno and the 303 and everything that came with it……..not to mention the new futuristic look of the System 8 ………and the direction they ( and we ) are heading with it all.

    When you look at some of their synth designs like System 100 and ProMars they are really cool………and have earnt a place in design history………..not to mention the Juno 106 and JD 800!

    It will be interesting to see how Roland honour him at MusicMesse………..he was an engineer at heart…….with a love of his subject.

  11. For the purpose it was intended for, the 303 was a flop. But the magic of Kakehashi san, would work around something else and the painful-to-program-TB-303 found its home with acid house producers. What would dance be without him? Very different that is for sure. RIP Dr Kakehashi San…

  12. I worked for Mr. kakehashi (indirectly) as an employee of Roland U.S. Back in the 1970s and ’80’s. Despite his elevated position in the Roland empire, he was a friendly and even playful guy. Everyone had great respect for him both as a creative designer and as a person. The music world will continue for a long time under his influence.

  13. What a wonderful worldwide ambassador and visionary for our music family. He was truly a charming, delightful and inspiring personality with many friends in the USA.

  14. So many great memories from one of the most engaging hosts I ever had the privilege to know. Kakehashi san was a true leader and citizen of the world. HIs sharing and sense of equality knew no bounds as I watched him grow the Rodgers Organ Company simply out of his love of the people his musical instruments could inspire. Like the day his friend Henry Z. Steinway passed, it is a grateful day of sadness for me.

  15. Ive got 3 808s fresh in boxes!! Just had a feeling they may be worth $$$ not a studio guy just had a feeling when i bought em.

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