Tribute and Variety
Shows are super successful. The buyer gets more bang for the buck, spending the same amount on
4 to 6 names.
The audience gets to hear a variety of artists. Win Win!
was hardly extraordinary for a bunch of guys to get together on a
street corner or in a high school bathroom to sing Doo Wop in the
New York City of the late 50's and early 60's. The history of
Brooklyn alone testifies to the remarkable talent that called just
that one borough "home" back in those days. What is
extraordinary, though, is the incredible feat that one of those
groups has accomplished.
After having their music break onto the pop charts for the first
time in 1961, The Tokens are back on the charts!
It was 33 years after the debut of their first big hit "Tonight I Fell In Love",
when they reemerged on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in
August of 1994, following the re-release of their chart-topping
single, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".
With that reentry comes the distinction of having the
second-longest chart span in the rock era! Billboard's archives
also show that the South African folk song "Wimoweh,"
which inspired the song that went to #1 worldwide, first charted
42 1/2 years earlier! No other can claim that longevity.
The release of the Disney motion picture "The Lion King"
prompted RCA to re-release "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
and a CD featuring a unique compilation of twenty of The Tokens'
earlier tunes. It gives their fans a rare opportunity to enjoy
many of the songs The Tokens wrote more than 30 years ago, as well
as songs popularized by other artists which The Tokens later
recorded in their own distinctive style.
That style and sound, of course, is elegantly defined by Jay Siegel,
whose tenor lead and trademark falsetto have characterized all The
Tokens' music since the group began recording, and continue to do
so today as they perform around the country.
While dyed-in-the-wool Tokens fans know that Jay always sung
lead on the group's hits (including, among others, "Portrait
Of My Love," "La Bamba," "B'Wanina."
"He's In Town," "She Lets Her Hair Down"
and "I Hear Trumpets Blow")
and know that he had a hand in writing many of them, some may not
be aware if the number of hats he wore.
The Tokens were one of the first independent, not to mention
youngest, teams to produce recordings for a major label, breaking
into the really big-time in 1962, when they became the first vocal
group to record for another vocal group! Remember "He's So
Fine" by the Chiffons? That was the first of many smash hits
Jay and his group had a hand in producing. They became the
production geniuses behind numerous other hits by The Chiffons, as
well as the biggest hits by Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Happenings,
Randy and The Rainbows, and Robert John. While many know the group
Dawn was named by Jay after one of his daughters, it's a lesser
known fact that Jay and two session singers actually were the
group on Orlando's first album! He and The Tokens also sang backup
vocals for such diverse artists as Del Shannon, Melissa
Manchester, The Blues Project, Keith, Mac Davis, and Bob Dylan.
Besides leaving their imprint on the pop music scene as
singers, songwriters, arrangers, producers, and record executives,
Jay Siegel and The Tokens were successes as writers, producers and
singers of commercials, reminding us that "Pan Am makes the
going great…", "Ban won't wear off as the
day…", and that "Benson and Hedges are a silly
millimeter longer…" They were also the voices for
Clairol, General Foods, Wrigley's gum, Sunkist and Wendy's.
Jay Siegel and The Tokens are truly one of the pop music
scene's most versatile, talented and enduring groups!