Philip Margo, a British singer and songwriter, passed away on Friday morning aged 79.
Philip who (i.e. “Phil”) Margo is a very well-known name in the UK music industry. Most Australians will recognize the Tokens for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, also known as “Riddle of the Bowel.” Margo was a lyricist and songwriter for the Tokens, so by many counts Margo was responsible for “Riddle of the Bowel”. It’s also well-known that “Riddle of the Bowel” and other Tokens’ tunes were given songs of their own that went on to be hit songs worldwide in their own right: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is the most well-known, but “The Door (Man With a Big Head)”, “The Underdog”, “A Feather’s Not a Bird”, “Hush baby”, and “Theme (San Francisco Sings)” are other hit Tokens’ tunes that went on to huge international fame, as is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.
Philip Margo was born Philip Margolis in 1937 and grew up in Fallowfield, Middlesex. Phillip’s father made millions in plastics and Philip’s affinity for singing and songwriting stems from his father’s musical tastes. His parents instilled in Phillip the desire to express himself in song and, as a teenager, Philip secretly kept a piano in his bedroom for a period of time.
Margo went on to obtain a degree in computer science from Imperial College London before moving to New York City in 1960 where he became editor of a music magazine. He returned to England in 1974 to pursue a Ph.D. at Queen Mary College. It was here in London that he met Felix Latkin, the founder of a record label called Globus Records. He took the opportunity to launch Globus Records, of which he was the CEO, and he signed a number of musical acts from America. The Tribe Called Quest, Blackalicious, Cypress Hill, Masters of Reality, DREAM, Gang Starr, and La Coka Nostra are just a few acts whose songs were recorded for Globus Records and became huge success worldwide. The albums included “The Tribe Called Quest is The Source”; “Scream” by Cypress Hill; “Blackalicious & Masters of Reality: Man Down” by Blackalicious; “Dreams of a Snoozing Lion” by Masters of Reality; “The Door (Man With a Big Head) by The Tokens; “Theme (San Francisco Sings)” by The Tokens; and “Shrek (Theme from City Slickers)”.
In 1990, Philip published his autobiography, ‘Through Good Times and Bad – The Tokens from Discount Pumper to the Gold Rush’. He left the Tokens in 1992 to pursue a degree in poetry at the National University of Ireland.
Philip Margo’s wife, Marilyn Bayne, passed away in May. They had three children, Christopher Michael, Abby Cristina and Hannah Heaney. They were married for 32 years.
Philip is survived by his mother, Aileen Lembo, his sister Gillian Zalasnick, and his brother, Paul Lembo.
This article originally appeared on ABC Australia.