Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of the Japanese electronic instruments company Roland, has reportedly died at the age of 87.

Tommy Snyder, a former adviser for Roland, revealed the tragic news on Saturday, as first pointed out by Synthtopia.

The legendary instrument engineer founded the Roland Corporation in 1972, and went on to develop some of the most game-changing instruments in history. He was the mind behind the System 700 modular synthesizer, the TB-303 bassline synthesizer, the TR-909, and, of course, the TR-808 drum machine. Though the latter was rolled out in 1980, it has had a profound and lasting influence on contemporary music—specifically in hip-hop. Everyone from the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC to Diplo and Lil Jon have used the machine in their work. But for the younger generation, there’s one name that immediately pops up when they hear “808”: Kanye West, whose 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak featured the drum machine on every track.

The 808 was also the subject of a 2014 documentary aptly titled 808, narrated by Zane Lowe and featuring interviews by Rick Rubin, Questlove, and more.

Following the news of Kakehashi’s death, fans and music insiders expressed their condolences on social media. You can check out some of the tributes below.


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