The first band to use the TR-808 was the Japanese electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra, as soon as it was released in 1980. One of the earliest uses of the TR-808 for a live performance was by Yellow Magic Orchestra in December 1980 for the song “1000 Knives,” an electro rendition of member Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s “Thousand Knives” (1978). The hand-clap sound was later publicized by YMO’s innovative album BGM, which was released March 1981 in Japan; used again on “1000 Knives” and in “Music Plans,” another of Sakamoto’s songs.

The TR-808 would later be further popularized in 1982, with the release of the mainstream American hits “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye and “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa.

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