Today on underground we are going to talk about a man that has contributed to music a lot more then anyone has before him. He was an engineer, an inventor, and an entrepreneur and to his credit help pave the wave of music genres from the 1980s till now with his musical inventions, and that man is Ikutaro Kakehashi.
Kakehashi was born in Osaka, Japan on February 7, 1930, early in his life he lost both of his parents to tuberculosis and was raised by his grandparents. Later in life, he decided to devoted his life to music and the ideal of electronic musical instruments. A new kind of instruments that both professionals and people with little to none experience can have access to and create any music.
In 1960 he created Ace Tone, a company that created electronic musical instruments such as electronic organs, analogue drum machines, and electronic drums. During the 1964 Summer National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM of short) Ikutaro Kakehashi introduced the R1 Rhythm Ace, the worlds first fully transistorized electronic drum. Both Ace Tone and the R1 were the footstep to his next company, Roland.
Kakehashi founded Roland back in 1972 and never look back on how this company would impact music for years to come. Roland released landmark instruments such as the Roland TR-77, TR-808, and the TR-909. The 808 and 909 revolutionized the music world for many years to come and its influence in hip-hop, electronic, dance, house, rock and pop music.
Kakehashi later went on to founded Boss, a subsidiary of Roland in 1974, which produced amplifiers and effect units for electric and bass guitar. Later on in his life, he would co-created the Musical Instrument Digital Interface or MIDI with Dave Smith in 1983. In 2013 he left Roland and created ATV, an audiovisual electronics company.
Sadly in April of 2017, Ikutaro Kakehashi passed away at the age of 87. Many tributes came shortly after once the world heard of his passing from many musicians from all over the world, and Dave Smith had this to say about him:
“just an amazing man, a good friend, a very good competitor of course, and just innovative continually all that time” – Dave Smith, Co-founder of MIDI and founder of Sequential.
The world of music wouldn’t be the same without Ikutaro Kakehashi and his contribution to music. Even if he, Ikutaro Kakehashi didn’t know how to play music at all and yet would end up being a musical pioneer in his own right.