“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” Singer Philip Margo Dies At Age 79

The Tokens / Facebook

The music world is mourning the loss of singer Philip Margo, who was a beloved member of the doo-wop group The Tokens. 

Even those who don’t know The Tokens by name are surely familiar with their signature song, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The Tokens released their recording in 1961, and it was a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Some of The Tokens’ other hits were “Tonight I Fell in Love,” “He’s in Town,” and “I Hear Trumpets Blow.” They also produced hits for other artists, such as The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” and Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Knock Three Times.”

The group existed under different names and with different members before they became The Tokens in 1960. Phil was part of that original Tokens lineup, along with his younger brother, Mitch.

The Margo brothers continued to tour with The Tokens until 2017 (Mitch died in November 2017).

Phil also had a successful career outside of his work with the Tokens. He contributed music and lyrics to the show A Matter of Time, wrote the 2010 novel The Null Quotient, and managed the career of Benson star Robert Guillaume.

Many hearts were broken when it was announced that Phil died on Saturday (November 13) at the age of 79. His family spoke to The New York Times, saying he passed away at a hospital in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke.

The Tokens also released a statement about Phil’s death:

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 statement opened.

From there, the Tokens recounted Phil’s life story and everything he accomplished throughout his career. You can read their statement below.

Phil is survived by his wife, Abbie, their three children, and eight grandchildren. Our hearts and prayers go out to them during this sad time.