55 Years Ago Today The Tokens Are In The Studio Recording "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

July 27, 2016

Today in 1961, The Tokens are in the studio

recording "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"


"The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

also known as "Wimoweh", "Wimba Way" or "Awimbawe"

is a song written and recorded

originally by Solomon Linda with the Evening Birds

for the South African Gallo Record Company in 1939

under the title "Mbube"Composed in Zulu


It was adapted and covered internationally

by many 1950s pop and folk revival artists

including the Weavers, Jimmy Dorsey, Yma Sumac,

Miriam Makeba, The Kingston Trio, and many others


During 1961 it became a number one hit in the United States

as adapted in English with the best-known version

by the doo-wop group the Tokens

who were an American male doo-wop-style vocal group

and record production company group from Brooklyn, New York


"The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

went on to earn at least $15 million in royalties

from cover versions and film licensing


The Tokens were formed as a group in 1955

at Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High School

and was known first as the 'Linc-Tones'

Originally featuring members

Neil Sedaka, Hank Medress, Eddie Rabkin, and Cynthia Zolotin

The band recorded its first single "While I Dream" that same year

Rabkin was replaced by Jay Siegel in 1956

The band became known as "The Tokens" in 1960

after they recruited the 13-year-old multi-instrumentalist

and first tenor Mitch Margo

and his baritone brother Phil Margo


In early 1961 The Tokens released a single for Warwick Records

entitled "Tonight I Fell In Love"

which scored #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart

and earned them an opportunity to perform

on the television program American Bandstand


The popularity that the band garnered as a result of this performance brought them new recording opportunities


culminating in their cover of Solomon Linda's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

for RCA Victor Records


"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart

where it remained for three weeks


and sold more than one million copies

and was awarded a gold disc


The Tokens

continue to perform "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

into the 21st Century


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