In Memory of Ikutaro Kakehashi


I just learned that Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland Corporation, died yesterday, April 1 2017, at the age of 87. The music products community has lost one of its greatest and most creative minds.

I knew Taro, as he liked to be called, starting in the early 80s when I was making my first drum machines. I would see him at NAMM shows and he was always very kind and helpful to me.  At one of those shows in perhaps 1982 when I was 27 and my first company was having problems, I asked him what I was doing wrong. He smiled and said "Fundamental rule of business: you must take in more money than goes out. Ha ha!" He then kindly took the time to explain that I needed to move beyond being a one-product company so that a slowdown of my one product does not take the company down. I felt that he genuinely wanted me to succeed, perhaps because drum machines were special to him, having designed so many innovative drum machines at both Roland and his first company Ace Tone.

He was also one of the most energetic and happy people I've met. He never seemed to care about money, but seemed driven more from a deep desire to create beautiful products that helped people make better music. Perhaps that's why everyone liked Taro so much. He's a rare human being and I'll miss him, as well as his profound contribution to music.

- Roger Linn


Ikutaro Kakehashi, me & Dave Smith at the 2001 NAMM show

Roger Linn Design

Los Altos, CA