With great sadness, ATV Corporation announces that Ikutaro Kakehashi, Chairman and CEO of the company, passed away of heart failure at the age of 87 on April 1 at 6:34 A.M. “On his behalf, we would like to express hereby our gratitude for your support and friendship during his lifetime,” ATV said in an official statement.
In accordance with his will, the funeral was held prior to this announcement with only family members in attendance. His family also requests that no gifts or flowers be sent to them in his remembrance. A celebration of his life is planned for Sunday, June 11, 2017, in Hamamatsu, Japan. Details will be announced on ATV Corporation’s website.
Mr. Kakehashi was born on February 7, 1930 in Osaka, Japan. In 1947, at the age of 16, he opened the Kakehashi Clock Shop and then Kakehashi Musen (an electrical appliance shop) in 1954. In 1960, he founded electronic instrument manufacturer Ace Electronic Industry Co., and in 1968, formed a joint company with Hammond in North America.
In 1972 Mr. Kakehashi left both companies to found Roland Corporation, which went on to launch a broad range of revolutionary electronic musical instruments, including the TR-808 Rhythm Composer drum machine in 1980 (which shaped the sounds and production of hip-hop, electronic dance music, and pop music for decades to come), V-Drum electronic drum set system in 1997, and HandSonic percussion controller in 2000, along with many world-firsts.
Mr. Kakehashi and Dave Smith, founder of synthesizer developer and manufacturer Sequential Circuits, together envisioned and discussed a Universal Synthesizer Interface in 1980 that would introduce compatibility and interconnectivity between electronic instruments from different manufacturers. The two met in January 1982 at the Winter NAMM show to begin to develop what eventually became the MIDI specification. As stated on the website midi.org: “MIDI (an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface) as its name was ultimately chosen, was first announced to the public in 1982, and by as early as December 1982 actually appeared on an instrument: the Sequential Prophet-600. Roland’s JP6 followed hot on its heels; the two were ‘connected’ successfully at the January 1983 NAMM Show — and a new chapter in the history of electronic musical instruments was born.”
In 1991, Kakehashi received an Honorary Doctorate from the Berklee College of Music in the US. In 1994, he founded the Kakehashi Foundation and became its director. In 2000, his handprints and signature were imprinted in the Hollywood RockWalk honoring the exceptional contributions that he has made to the music industry through technological innovations in electronic musical instruments. In 2002, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from MIPA (Musikmesse International Press Award), a community comprising music and musical instrument magazines worldwide. In 2005, he was named Professor Emeritus by the Chinese Central Conservatory of Music for his worldwide contributions in the area of electronic musical instrument development, and the important impact that he had on popularizing electronic musical instruments in China. He became the first non-musician to be named Professor Emeritus by the Conservatory, and only the second Japanese person to be awarded the title, the first being conductor Seiji Ozawa. In 2008, he was named Professor Emeritus by the University of Glamorgan in UK for his contributions to the music industry and music education.
In February 2013, he and Dave Smith were jointly awarded the Technical Grammy Award by the Recording Academy. The two were recognized for their work in establishing the MIDI protocol as a worldwide, manufacturer-agnostic standard for electronic musical instruments, and for the impact that the MIDI standard had on the music industry thereafter.
In 2015, his foundation changed its name to the Kakehashi Foundation to which he became an honorary advisor. The first ATV products, Electronic Drums aD5 and a series of video converters, were launched in November 2015. The Electrorganic percussion aFrame was launched in 2016, and the aDrums in 2017.
He received the Special Achievement Award at the 20th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2017.
As a book author, Kakehashi has written I Believe in Music (Hal Leonard, 2002, published to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Roland Corporation), and An Age Without Samples: Originality And Creativity In the Digital World (Hal Leonard, 2017).
ATV Corporation has also provided the following passage written by Mr. Kakehashi, quoted from An Age Without Samples:
“The Future of Electronic Musical Instruments”
In 2013, I made the decision to take leave from Roland, a company that I have run for 40 years since its founding, and launch a new company, ATV Corporation, where we are engaged in developing new systems that integrate electronic musical instruments and audio + video.
Because of my age and the physical constraints that come with it, many may say that this is a foolhardy endeavor, and I think that it is only natural that one might think so. However, the work that needs to be done in the field of electronic musical instruments cannot be completed in a single generation. Rather, I believe my mission is to develop people who will be able to carry this work forward into the next generation, and it feels right to engage in this work on a day-to-day basis to fulfill this mission.
We have settled on a vision for ATV Corporation as a company that will engage in developing new concepts and ideas to match the new era. By moving forward with a positive outlook, we have seen a variety of different possibilities come to fruition and eventually reach the market. Reflecting on this new approach, I’ve come to realize how antiquated our previous way of doing things has been, and that we have missed many opportunities due to our attachment to preconceived ideas.
That said, it is also critical that we establish our foundations on the experience and technologies that we have accumulated over the years. Our goal is to combine these in a well-balanced way, and focus on new instruments, video equipment, and audio. One thing that I can say with certainty is that building on the central role and foundation of electronic musical in their ability to produce sounds, adding video will be primary focus of our development moving forward.
As I began to summarize the philosophy on which I founded ATV Corporation, I noticed that very little had changed in terms of vision from the time that I founded Roland. I was rather surprised myself to discover, after all this time, that a philosophy that led to the same conclusion had been present all along within me. And I am also very proud that to this day I have hardly wavered in my convictions as I engaged in the area of electronic instruments.
What I have to say is: “Live performance is the best in music.”
I believe the essence of music for the performing musician is in enjoying it on stage with a live audience. And the most important element of musical expression to deliver it with conviction, again, live from a stage.
Moving forward, “WE DESIGN THE FUTURE” will continue to be the motto at both Roland and ATV Corporations.