Ikutaro Kakehashi dead: Japanese engineer who founded Roland Corporation dies aged 87

Artists who used iconic TR-808 are among those paying tribute

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The Independent Culture

Fans are mourning the death of electronic music pioneer Ikutaro Kakehashi, who has passed away aged 87. 

The Japanese engineer founded the Roland Corporation in 1972 and invented a series of drum machines and synths that have been used by some of music's biggest names since the mid-1970s, from Prince to Kanye West, New Order to Dr Dre.

Kakehashi was behind several popular drum machines including the iconic TR-808, which became a staple of electronic music and hip hop. Underground music producers loved the TR-808 because it was cheap and simple to use. 

It appeared on Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing' and in the opening bars of 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' by Whitney Houston. 

In 2015 it was the subject of a documentary featuring Pharrell Williams, Phil Collins and Fatboy Slim. 

His death was announced by a former colleague on Facebook. 

Marc Almond of Soft Cell, which used the 808 on their hit 'Tainted Love', wrote: "A man who changed music Ikutaro Kakehashi the man behind the Roland Synth, 808 and more has sadly passed. Thanks for the Electro sounds."

Roland developer Tommy Snyder paid tribute to his colleague of almost four decades on Facebook, where he wrote: "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."

Maryn Ware, who played keyboards for The Human League, told the BBC: "Roland was central to everything that we did for the whole of the first two albums - they featured on every track.

"We were loyal to them like people would be loyal to a football team."