The Tokens: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

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The Tokens was a singing group that was made up of Hank Medress, Jay Siegel, and Phil and Mitch Margo. The group had a 1960 hit called “Tonight I Fell In Love” but in 1961, they did not yet have a record label. The group auditioned for producers by the names of Hugo and Luigi (Peretti and Creatore) by singing a song entitled “Wimoweh” to them. The producers were so impressed by the group’s rendition of the song- however they felt that the song needed new lyrics. Hugo and Luigi rewrote the verses with the help of the professional songwriter George Weiss. The song’s title went from “Wimoweh” to its new Americanized title, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The Tokens were dumbfounded! They thought this was just an audition; they didn’t realize they would be the new adopted fathers of this foreign song. The group was so humiliated by the song’s new title that they fought and fought against the release of their recording, which would be a B-side to another “import” (or foreign song) they had recorded that same year called “Tina.”


What was the first title of this song? Click “Next” to find out!

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