While the term “legend” gets thrown around a lot, Ikutaro Kakehashi is arguably the most legendary music technology innovator of our age. On April 1st, the founder of Roland Corporation passed away at age 87. Responsible for the development of MIDI and the production of synthesizers including the 303, 808, 909, Jupiter, and many more, the contributions that Kakehashi delivered to electronic music will never be forgotten.
Known as the “godfather of MIDI” (MIDI being Musical Instrument Digital Interface, the language of digital sounds), Ikutaro Kakehashi founded Roland Corporation, where he acted as the president of the company and played an involved role in product development. In collaboration with Dave Smith, Tom Oberheim, Yamaha, Korg, and Kawai, Kakehashi introduced the idea of MIDI in 1983, changing the world forever.
Hip-hop music was built on the 808. House music was built on the 909 and the 303. To this day, these synthesizers and drum machines play an essential role in the music we listen to. In quite literally any electronic song, whether it be Kanye West, Daft Punk, Marvin Gaye, Future, Armin van Buuren, or millions of other artists, sounds that would not be possible without Kakehashi are played.
The music community has been paying respect to Ikutaro Kakehashi through Twitter.
Rip ikutaro kakehashi. Without this Man I wouldn't be where I am today. #808 much respect and honor to @Roland_US
— Just Hold Aoki (@steveaoki) April 3, 2017
RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi of Roland. The man responsible for the 101, 303, 808, 909 and many other beloved machines we use to make our music.
— erol alkan (@erolalkan) April 1, 2017