Birthday: Tokens' Phil Margo

Doo-wop bass vocalist Phil Margo began singing in his native Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was a youth.

He was born on April 1, 1942, and, with his brother Mitch, was chosen by singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka to be a part of his backing group, the Tokens. The other members were Hank Medress, Jay Siegel and Joseph Venneri.

The Tokens, after splitting from Sedaka, had their biggest hit in 1961, the #1 smash "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The song was based on the Zulu folk song "Wimoweh," which was made popular by Miriam Makeba.

After flopping with follow-ups, the Tokens disbanded. The Margo brothers and Siegel sang in a band called Cross Country in the '70s. The Tokens regrouped sporadically and sang on commercials for Pan Am and Clairol. Versions of the band still tour today on the nostalgia circuit.

The Tokens recently made the "Guinness Book of World Records" for singing the national anthem in 30 major-league baseball stadiums in one season.

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" has been used in Disney movies and on R.E.M.'s "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite."

Other birthdays Saturday: John Barbata (Turtles, Jefferson Airplane/Starship), 53; Mark White (ABC), 38; and Jeff Porcaro (Toto), 1954–1992.


VMAs 2017