TONTO Co-Creator and Stevie Wonder Producer Malcolm Cecil Dead at 84

BY Josiah HughesPublished Mar 29, 2021

Malcolm Cecil, a pioneering music producer and engineer, has died at the age of 84. He passed away yesterday (March 28) following an unspecified illness.

Cecil produced plenty of big releases in his time, including numerous Stevie Wonder albums. Still, Cecil is best known as the co-creator of the TONTO — the world's largest analog synthesizer.

The TONTO (also known as The Original New Timbral Orchestra) was created by Cecil in collaboration with Robert Margouleff, although Cecil took it over in 1975 and helped maintain it until the present day.

Over the years, the TONTO has been used by the likes of the Isley Brothers, the Doobie Brothers, Randy NewmanJoan Baez, Quincy Jones, Bobby Womack, Weather Report, Gil Scott-Heron, Harry Nilsson, James Taylor, Diana Ross and many others.

The synthesizer was obtained by Calgary's National Music Centre in 2013. It was fully restored by 2018 and is available for contemporary artists to use. Most recently, Robin Hatch created a series of compositions on the TONTO while working as the National Music Centre's artist in residence.

Watch the National Music Centre's brief documentary about Malcolm Cecil and the TONTO below.

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