Ikutaro Kakehashi 1930 – 2017

The passing of Roland’s founder marks the end of an era…

Ikutaro Kakehashi was a visionary whose work in the world of electronic music has helped to shape and hone it into a revolution that continues into the modern era.

1973 marked the release of Roland’s SH-1000, which was one of Japan’s first synthesisers. Although crude by modern standards, this monophonic analogue synth proved popular with the likes of Vangelis, The Human League and Blondie. A pre-OMD Andy McCluskey also made use of one for a while.

OMD’s use of Roland gear has also produced some of their most classic sounds. In 1978, Roland released the CR-78 CompuRhythm, a programmable drum machine whose range of presets and ability to change sounds brought it into the favour of many bands of the late ’70s and early ’80s, including Blondie, Gary Numan and Ultravox. John Foxx utilised it for his Metamatic album, but the sound of the CR-78 is perhaps best typified by OMD’s classic ‘Enola Gay’ (it was also used for the intro to ‘Red Frame/White Light’).

Mono synths such as the SH-101 became a popular synth that’s used by artists as diverse as Vince Clarke and Boards Of Canada. The rolling bass sequence on ‘Locomotion’ is down to the SH-101.

The polyphonic Jupiter-8 was an 8-voice polyphonic synth that arrived in 1981. It was a standard synth for OMD throughout the Junk Culture and Crush eras having first been introduced to the band by Howard Jones.

The legacy of Kakehashi and Roland is still something that OMD make use of in their music today, particularly the use of Roland Fantom workstations. Andy McCluskey paid tribute to Kakehashi on learning of his passing: “He is responsible for so many or the instruments that transformed electronic music into something that two poor kids from the suburbs could actually aspire to owning and making music on for the rest of their lives. Thank you”.

Our sister site The Electricity Club has penned a fitting tribute to Roland’s founder: Ikutaro Kakehashi 1930 – 2017