Ikutaro Kakehashi, Founder of Roland, Dies at 87

Ikutaro Kakehashi

Ikutaro Kakehashi in 2000.

Ikutaro Kakehashi, the engineer and entrepreneur who founded electronic musical instruments manufacturer the Roland Corporation in 1972 (and, most recently, the ATV Corporation in 2014), has died. He was 87 years old.

"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," former Roland colleague Tommy Snyder wrote on Facebook Saturday (April 1). "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."

Before launching Roland, in 1960 Kakehashi founded Ace Tone, where he first developed the push button percussion R1 Rhythm Ace, commercialized as the FR-1 Rhythm Ace. He went on to lead Roland for over four decades, where he was instrumental in the development of synthesizers and drum machines, notably the influential TR-808. His career continued on as founder and executive chairman at the ATV Corporation.

He received a technical Grammy in 2013 for contributions to the development of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology, along with Sequential Circuits founder Dave Smith. Berklee College of Music awarded Kakehashi an honorary doctorate in 1991.

Kakehashi published an autobiography, I Believe In Music, in 2002 and released the book An Age Without Samples: Originality and Creativity in the Digital World in 2017.

Billboard has reached out to representatives at Roland and ATV for comment.