Philip Margo of The Tokens dies at 79: Musician known for The Lion Sleeps Tonight suffered a stroke

Philip Margo of The Tokens dies at 79: Musician known for The Lion Sleeps Tonight suffered a stroke 2
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Philip Margo of the pop group The Tokens died on Saturday, Nov. 13 following complications from a stroke. He was 79.

The Brooklyn-born musician found fame with his band for singing one of the ‘best pop-songs of all time,’ The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Margo reportedly died in a Los Angeles-area hospital surrounded by his family, with his death confirmed on The Tokens Facebook page.

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Sad: Philip Margo of the pop group The Tokens died on Saturday, Nov. 13 following complications from a stroke. He was 79 (clockwise from top: Phil Margo, Jay Siegel, Mitch Margo and Hank Medress)

Sad: Philip Margo of the pop group The Tokens died on Saturday, Nov. 13 following complications from a stroke. He was 79 (clockwise from top: Phil Margo, Jay Siegel, Mitch Margo and Hank Medress)

‘The Lion Sleeps… With a final roar we announce the passing of our incredible lion, Philip Margo. Phil died yesterday surrounded by his beloved family,’ the post began.  ‘He was a multi-media entrepreneur who ran the gamut from producing gold records to writing novels and everything in-between. 

‘He loved the Dodgers, Devil Dogs and Nathans. Phil began his incredible career, along with his younger brother Mitch as founding members of the world-renowned Tokens. Their hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is still considered one of the best pop-songs of all time.’

The song was released 60 years ago on Nov. 17, 1961 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks, in addition to being used in countless television shows and movies.

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Not forgetten: Margo reportedly died in a Los Angeles-area hospital surrounded by his family, with his death confirmed on The Tokens Facebook page

Not forgetten: Margo reportedly died in a Los Angeles-area hospital surrounded by his family, with his death confirmed on The Tokens Facebook page

In the past: The group, which noted Neil Sedaka as an original member, performed on American Bandstand and released nine more songs to reach the Top 100 from 1962-1970; clockwise from top: Hank Medress, Phil Margo, Jay Siegel and Mitch Margo in 1961

In the past: The group, which noted Neil Sedaka as an original member, performed on American Bandstand and released nine more songs to reach the Top 100 from 1962-1970; clockwise from top: Hank Medress, Phil Margo, Jay Siegel and Mitch Margo in 1961

The group, which noted Neil Sedaka as an original member, performed on American Bandstand and released nine more songs to reach the Top 100 from 1962-1970.

‘As producers they popularized acts such as The Chiffons (“He’s So Fine,” “One Fine Day,”), The Happenings (“See You In September,” “I’ve Got Rhythm,”), Randy & The Rainbows (“Denise”) and Tony Orlando and Dawn (“Candida,” “Knock Three Times,” “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”),’ the post added. 

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While their popularity began in the ’60s, fans grew to love them through the decades with successful releases including Intercourse in 1968, Cross Country in 1973, Re-Doo-Wopp in 1988 and Esta Noche El Leon Baila in 1996. 

‘The Tokens biggest fan was always their younger sister, Maxine who worked with the group behind the scenes and even sang with them on their 1998 MLB National Anthem tour,’ the social share noted. 

'As producers they popularized acts such as The Chiffons ("He's So Fine," "One Fine Day,"), The Happenings ("See You In September," "I've Got Rhythm,"), Randy & The Rainbows ("Denise") and Tony Orlando and Dawn ("Candida," "Knock Three Times," "Tie A Yellow Ribbon"),' the post added; seen on The Tonight Show in 1996

‘As producers they popularized acts such as The Chiffons (“He’s So Fine,” “One Fine Day,”), The Happenings (“See You In September,” “I’ve Got Rhythm,”), Randy & The Rainbows (“Denise”) and Tony Orlando and Dawn (“Candida,” “Knock Three Times,” “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”),’ the post added; seen on The Tonight Show in 1996

After Phil’s music career, he pivoted into a successful writing endeavor and produced television movies for both Robert and Gary Coleman, having a string of successful films featuring The Kid With the 200 I.Q. and The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins. 

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He also co-wrote and co-produced This Wife for Hire, as well as The Goddess of Love.

‘He was a black belt in Kung Fu San Soo as well as an avid softball player,’ the Facebook post noted. ‘He owned and flew planes into his 70’s. He loved the space program, Hallmark movies and salt-water taffy but he loved family most of all. 

‘He relished every moment he spent with Abbie, Noah & Laura, Joshua & Lynn, Neely & Daniel, Maxine, Les & Elon, Ethan, Solomon, Jax, Jacob, Benjamin, Reese, Zoe and Gabriel.’ 

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