The Roland TR 808 from composer - the sound of the 1980s?


A pending new movie about a Drum machine is to be made.Yes you’ve heard right. 


News is just in which we will ALL be required to get out our diaries and make a note of the pending new documentary/film to be made about a Drum Machine?? Yes, you’ve read that right. A Drum machine; and not any old Drum machine as we are talking about the Roland TR-808.

It seems that Arthur Baker the producer behind the legendary track called “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaata will be marshalling the product in great detail. In fact the film is set for a world wide release via spring 2015.


I have learned that the documentary/movie will be featuring a host of stars that have actual used the Drum machine during the 1980’s and beyond.


Artists from the world of Hip Hop music for instance who are going to contribute to the movie are - Afrika Bambaataa, Rick Rubinand Hank Shocklee.  From the world of House music, Drum and Bass music and Techno music  will will be witnessing artists likec; and finally pop hit-makers such as Diplo, Pharrell Williams, Lil Jon, David Guetta; and Phil Collins will all be having their say.


To give you a brief history on the Roland TR-808 drum machine. You will find that it was released to the world during the year of 1980 by the Japanese Electronics company called Roland.The drum machines full name is/was this - TR-808 Rhythm Composer.


As soon as it was released to the world it was in direct competition with The LM-1 Drum Computer, manufactured by Linn Electronics Inc. This machine was the first drum machine to use digital samples of acoustic drums and was conceived and designed by Roger Linn in 1979.


The LM-1 Drum Computer sounded very like the real thing (Like a Drum), however the TR-808 Rhythm Composer – had a very thin sound in comparison.At the time (1980), the pricing of the TR-808 Rhythm Composer against the LM-1 Drum Computer was good. In fact it was very good. About 3 x times cheaper then the LM-1 Drum Computer in fact!


TR-808 Rhythm Composer unfortunately gained a reputation of sounding weird and wacky. So it wasn’t long before the machine was discontinued by the Roland company within the year of 1983. And they bought out instead the TR-909.


The unloved TR-808 Rhythm Composer however became a regular fixture in junk shops and pawn shops around the world, and it was now easy to pick one up for under £65.00 pounds (English pounds) or so.This was a blessing to a new wave of music producers who had no interest in making their drums sound realistic. The machine had suddenly found itself at the center of a new wave of electronic music.


 A Trailer that was made for the Film coming out in 2015 – Please click on the You tube video below.



The pending film is already sparking interest all over the world already. As many musicians have stated that it was the “Sound of the 1980’s for a while.


Popular artists that come to mine that have used the Drum machine would be - Yellow Magic Orchestra – “Firecracker” (The first band to use the equipment) (Japan) (1980) (, Marvin Gaye’s track - “Sexually Healing - (USA) (1982)” and then the big one - Afrikaa Bambaataa’s - "Planet Rock" - (USA) in 1982

Other artists that have had huge underground hits with the machine would be – Newcleus’ ‘Jam On Revenge (The Wikki Wikki Song), 1983 and Midnight Starr’s – Curious (1984)


"Making a documentary about a drum machine, a piece of electronic equipment, is an interesting challenge," director Alexander Dunn said in a statement .

"It has no voice of its own, so as a protagonist, it's rather difficult to mould a story around. 808 has really been a journey of discovery for me. One that led myself and the team to meet over 50 musicians and artists from all around the world, hearing their personal stories about the 808 and the music they created using its iconic sounds. Those artists and musicians are the real protagonists of the film and the 808, in the hands of our contributors, would change music forever." - Exclusive- 808 Drum-machine


Look out for this film in 2015. Get a diary out now and look to pencil in this film name if the months of March or April, 2015, because you will want to see it.

It is bound to bring back memories for many from the time when this machine was responsible for making some the most awe aspiring music of that time.

For instance who can forget – The SOS Bands “Just be good to me” – 1983 or A Guy called Gerald – “Voodoo Ray” – 1989 – another track made with the TR-808 drum machine. (*Please click on website link for the source) - - Great songs built around the 808

Please click on the You Tube video for the track that is The SOS Bands “Just be good to me” – 1983 to hear the TR 808 within the song.



Well that all folks for me now anyway.

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. me here. If you want to discuss anything mentioned here in this article.

Dj Mistri and the Electric Soul Show ©