Our sincere sympathies go out to his family and friends.
Philip Margo, a member of the Tokens, a close-harmony group that rose to popularity with the No. 1 single “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in 1961, passed away on Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 79. According to his relatives, stroke was the reason of his death and no further details were announced.
On Sunday, The Tokens announced his death on their Facebook page, writing, “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. He was a multi-media entrepreneur who ran the gamut from producing gold records to writing novels and everything in-between… 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 Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the band became one of the most well-known songs in American music, thanks to Jay Siegel’s opening falsetto and Margo’s baritone tone.
For three weeks, the hit song topped the Billboard Hot 100 list. Between 1962 and 1970, the Tokens recorded nine additional singles that also charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1994, when their hit song was included in Disney’s “The Lion King,” Margo commented to the New York Times at the time, “Now that it’s current, we’re current. I am thrilled.”
Philip Margo worked as a music producer and television writer throughout his career, in addition to singing baritone in the band’s 1961 hit song. He wrote on shows including Diff’rent Strokes, Small Wonder and The Upper Hand, among others, as per PEOPLE. He then co-wrote and co-produced “This Wife for Hire” and “The Goddess of Love.”