From his well-deserved induction at Rockwalk.

I was saddened to learn this morning that earlier today, Tsutomu Katoh, founder and chairman of Korg, passed away. He was a rare visionary, not only the founder of one of the great electronic instrument manufacturers, but – unlike the vast majority of his counterparts – someone who stayed at the helm of the business he created. Founded nearly 50 years ago, Korg, started with Tadashi Osanai, was one of the first businesses to popularize electronic instruments as we now know them. Kato, a veteran Shinjuku nightclub owner, bet on the legendary DoncaMatic drum machine – an innovation that recently earned him a cameo with the Gorillaz – and the rest is history. One of the fathers of modern electronic music making, he will be sorely missed, and the news is even sadder in this difficult week for our friends in Japan. Our thoughts are with you, as with the former founders’ friends, family, and colleagues, as his vision lives on.

From a letter circulated earlier today:

Dear Sirs and Madams,

I would like to inform you that our founder and chairman Mr. Tsutomu Katoh passed away early this morning (March 15, 2011) after a long fight with cancer.

Since he founded Korg Inc. in 1963, Mr. Katoh has led our company with great talent, vision and leadership. He was loved and respected by all the employees, all Korg family members and made a huge contribution to the lives of countless musicians around the world.

Plans for a memorial service will follow very soon.

I would appreciate your prayers for him and hope he can rest peacefully now.


Seiki Kato
Korg Inc.

Remembering Tsutomu Katoh:
40 Years Of Korg Gear: The History Of Korg, a three-part series by Gordon Reid for Sound on Sound; pt. 2, pt. 3

Video interview at NAMM

I welcome your memories and thoughts here, and any other obituaries you see; we’ll do a retrospective soon.

Matrixsynth has an especially nice story with more images and video and stories:
RIP Mr. Tsutomu Katoh – Founder of Korg