TONTOâ€™s Expanding Head Band (Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil) are
considered to be one of the most influential electronic groups from the
1970â€™s. Malcolm Cecil designed and created the TONTO synthesizer (The
Original New Timbral Orchestra) from Moog Series III and other modules and
custom electronics from the time.
This magnificent beast was subsequently used on the duo's seminal electronic
album Zero Time and later in many sessions with Stevie Wonder, with Cecil,
Margouleff and TONTO working together to provide much of the material and
sounds for Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions and Fulfillingness'
First Finale, at Electric Lady studios
Many consider these collaborations to have changed the face of black music
and have as much importance in musical development as George Martin's
influence via the Beatles. Margouleff left the Head Band in 1975 and since
then Malcolm Cecil has been "TONTO's keeper".
TONTO's Expanding Head Band CDs have been almost unobtainable and mint
copies of "TONTO RIDES AGAIN" have been fetching a small fortune on eBay, so
in 2006 Malcolm released a CD from remastered, original Head Band master
While purchasing one of these CDs one of Malcolm's customers happened to
stumble across what appeared to be Stevie Wonderâ€™s Grammy award for the
classic album Innervisions from 1973, on eBay. Thinking this to be
somewhat strange - like heâ€™s going to need the cash...the observant
customer contacted Malcolm to ask if the Grammy was real or fake?
Also thinking it strange, Malcolm called Stevie and asked him if it was
legit. Stevie told him that several items, including the said Grammy had
been stolen from his office and asked Malcolm to help him stop the auction.
After having emailed the seller and receiving no reply, he contacted the
Sheriffs office of Calabassa CA, where the auction was being held
simultaneously with the eBay one. Although the cops arrived at the scene in the nick of time,
Since the original theft had not been reported, they couldnâ€™t stop it and so it went on sale,
reaching a whopping final price of $32,750.
When the auction was over, the police called Malcolm and put the auctioneer
on the line:
"He claimed he had contacted 'the Grammy People' months ago and that because
they had not interceded when it was sold in New York at public auction to
his consignor six months ago , his consignor was now the legal owner.
Furthermore he claimed he tried to negotiate a $21,000 settlement payment -
$15,000 for his consignor and $6,000 for his (the auctioneer) commission,
with 'the Grammy peopleâ€™' but that no one had called him back. so he
Who was the mystery bidder willing to pay such a high price? None other
than Stephanie Andrews, president of Stevieâ€™s Company and his right hand
In Malcolm's words, "You couldn't invent this stuff! Steal a unique and
special merit award from a blind black man and sell it back to him for a
And in fact even more â€“ once the auctioneers surcharge had been added the total came to almost $42k!