Happy Birthday, Phil Margo of the Tokens

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014
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Happy Birthday, Phil Margo of the Tokens

It’s Phil Margo’s birthday today, and if you don’t know his name, you surely know his baritone, which has been a significant part of the Tokens’ sound since he and his brother, Mitch Margo, joined the band in 1960.

The Tokens first found success on the pop charts with their 1961 single “Tonight I Fell in Love,” which hit #15, but as everyone and their brother already knows, the song that really sealed their place in pop history arrived a little bit later that year, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which topped the charts and continues to be their signature number to this day.

(Check out Billy Joel and Jimmy Fallon's rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" here.)

Although the Tokens never came anywhere near hitting those same heights again, they did continue to send singles into the Hot 100 on a regular basis throughout the ‘60s and into the ‘70s, including such songs as “I Hear Trumpets Blow” (1966), “Portrait of My Love” (1967), “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early in the Morning)” (1969), and “In the Midnight Hour” (1973).

To celebrate Phil’s birthday, we thought we’d shine a spotlight on one of the Tokens’ late ‘60s albums, one which has developed a bit of a cult following over the years: 1967’s It’s a Happening World. Although its cover art pointedly promotes the fact that it features the aforementioned single “Portrait of My Love,” the album opens by unabashedly reminding listeners of the song that brought them their greatest fame with a track called “Wimoweh 5 ½ Years Later,” but once you get beyond that not entirely unreasonable callback, the expanded edition of the album offers 23 further tracks which will please fans of ‘60s pop to no end.