Since being founded in Japan in 1972, Roland has become a household name. Ikutaro Kakehashi was Roland’s chief mastermind, and he played an instrumental role in the development of the SH-1000 synthesiser and the TB-303, 808 and 909 drum machines. Over the years, these instruments have become enormously important in just about every genre of music with any kind of electronic infusion.
The 808 is probably the most well known, Kanye West dedicated a whole album to it, but you can see the DNA of Kakehashi’s work far beyond that. The Roland drum machines were cheap, and easy to understand, which made them a godsend to the early hip-hop practitioners of New York and the house pioneers in Chicago. Before even that, though, the SH-1000 had carved out a reputation as one of the best synths on the market, it was the backbone of the electro revolution of the late seventies and early eighties.
Sadly, a colleague of Kakehashi’s revealed on Sunday that the legendary inventor has passed away at the age of 87. To honour his memory, we’ve put together a playlist of some of the finest tracks to feature his handiwork. Some of them will be familiar, and it would have been easy to populate the whole playlist with pop mainstays, but the Roland arsenal reaches so much further than that. Give it a listen, see if you discover something new.