Ikutaro Kakehashi passed away on April 1 2017, and a million people finally heard of this wonderful man who created more products than even a million dollar corporation could figure out how to market. Kakehashi created three companies (Ace Tone, Roland and ATV) and is the catalyst for why the sound of synthetic drums – and the Roland TR-808 in particular – proliferated even more widely than the acoustic instruments they sought to emulate.
While updating some of our old mixes the other day, I came across this anecdote from an interview 5 Mag’s Rees Urban conducted with Chicago House Music legend Tyree Cooper. Back in the day, it seems, Tyree (along with Mike Dunn and Hugo H.) borrowed Marshall Jefferson’s TR-808 and didn’t really want to give it back – and some great things (and some great records) happened because of it.
Ikutaro Kakehashi couldn’t have imagined three guys on the southside of Chicago would be fighting over the TR-808 or any of his instruments and the ramifications of that. Or maybe he did. Either way, here’s the story of how nicking Marshall’s 808 lead to the creation of Tyree’s “I Fear The Night”:
Well, myself, Mike Dunn and Hugo H., we had been friends for the last 100,000 years [laughs]… These guys are my brothers.
We used to run this club called “My House”. It was called the “Sheba Disco” at first. That’s where people like Lil’Louis and Lil’John used to get their start from back in the day. It was like 87th & Ashland.
We took it over – me and Mike slept in that place. We were that into that club. We slept in that MF, because we threw our parties in there.
Mike met Marshall [Jefferson] first and Marshall asked if he could bring his equipment to the club. A 707, 808, 727, 303 – everything Marshall had…
We were like, “Since you’re not using this 808, can we give you $20 and borrow it for like a week?” Marshall said, “Yeah, aight man, cool, I’m not using it right now.”
We had the MF for like six months! It went between me, Mike & Hugo. We had that for a while.
Eventually Marshall was like, “Where’s my 808?”
“Oh, Mike’s got it.”
Mike would say, “Hugo’s got it.”
Hugo would say, “No, Mike’s got it,” or “No, Tyree’s got it.”
Then I got it and gave it back to him. So “I Fear The Night” came up out of that. I just wanted to do a record and have a drum machine. Me, Hugo and Mike worked on the drums but by the time I got to the studio I couldn’t remember which patterns were which, so I had to try to figure it out. It would have come out a bit different if I remembered the patterns. I think the second part of it with the snare rolls was Hugo’s influence. I’m not even too sure. I lost the tape with the shit that was on it.