PASSINGS….

Mississippi born blues man DION PAYTON died on Friday 12th March. He was 71 and it’s reported that he’d been in poor health for some time.

Born in October 1950 in Greenwood, Mississippi, his family moved to Chicago when he was aged 5 by which time, he was already playing guitar. In his late teens he quit his job at the Chicago docks to pursue a musical career. He played in various blues groups including the Violinaires who recorded for Chess. Payton also toured in the bands of O V Wright, Millie Jackson and Albert King. In 1985 Payton formed his best-known band, the 43rd Street Blues Band who became a mainstay on the Chicago club scene. Always suspicious of record company chicanery, Payton and his band rarely recorded.

Payton is survived by his wife (Jean), his sister and son. Sadly, the family had to launch a funding page to pay for funeral expenses.

Music pioneer, Grammy winner, jazz bassist and producer of several Stevie Wonder albums, MALCOLM CECIL died on Sunday, March 28th. He was 84 and his son confirmed his passing. No cause of death was given but, like Payton, Cecil had been in poor health for some time.  

Cecil was born in London in 1937 and after serving as radar engineer in the Royal Air Force, he took up the bass guitar and worked with people like Ronnie Scott and Alexis Korner. After relocating to the States, he worked with Bob Margouleff on some of the early Moog synthesisers. (His background in radar was obviously important!) The duo eventually developed their own electronic instrument – TONTO… “The Original New Timbral Orchestra”. Forming the Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, the pair released the 1971 LP ‘Zero Time’. Stevie Wonder was intrigued by the new technology and worked with Cecil and Bob Margouleff on four albums… ‘Music of My Mind’, ‘Talking Book’, Innervisions’ and Fullfillingness First Finale’. (Wonder and the TONTO team later fell out over royalty issues). The early TONTO technology was also use by people like The Isley Brothers and the Doobie Brothers.

In the late 70s Cecil and Margouleff disbanded their relationship with Cecil taking ownership of the TONTO brand. Though TONTO was used extensively in the early 80s, newer, easier to use technologies overtook it and the original TONTO was retired to a museum, Calgary’s National Music Centre.

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