Philip Margo of the Tokens, who in 1963 reached No. 2 with “Who Sang of a Snoozing Lion,” has died at age 79, his publicist announced Tuesday.
Margo died at a hospital in Manhattan with his family present. No cause of death was announced.
Margo, the frontman for the seminal musical and popular culture band of the 1960s, was a Bernie Sanders fan, said his publicist David Brokaw.
“I knew he was always interested in politics and was a Bernie Sanders supporter,” Brokaw said. “I found him to be very very kind and warm person.”
Born in New York City in 1936, Margo began his music career with band Kissing A Fool in the early 1960s and later played with soul groups the Jacksons and Bubba Smith & the Raveonettes.
A self-described “Queen of B” in the New York songwriting scene, Margo wrote more than 30 hits for Motown acts. He wrote “Stand By Me” for the Jackson 5 in 1961 and “That’s All Right” for The Temptations in 1961. He also wrote “Too Bad,” which became a hit for Bobby Rogers and the Teenagers, and wrote, co-wrote and co-produced Three Dog Night’s 1972 hit “One of the Boys.”
Margo began collaborating with Allan Sherman, who was known for “All Around the World,” in 1963, although their work never reached much commercial success. He also began writing with the Tokens, who in 1963 made a mark on pop history with “Who Sang of a Snoozing Lion,” a song that became a hit after it was used on the musical comedy film “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs.”
The Tokens went on to achieve international success with the Tokens’ song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” an ode to a beloved white lion put down by a zoo keeper following animal attacks. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard chart.
By 1965, he was writing with Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits.
“What Margo would do in the way of arrangement was tailor-made to capture the musical personality of each artist,” said Brokaw. “So you have a kind of ‘Margo sound,’ which is not just arrangering, it’s creating a specific sound around a musician’s personality.”
One of the original members of NBC’s show “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Margo was the original voice of “Rambling Reporter” during the show’s first five years.
After the band broke up in 1974, Margo briefly worked as an arranger and “helped shape the sound of reggae” with Bob Marley.