Hank Medress, a founding member of the Tokens, passed away from lung cancer on June 23. He was 68. Back in 1955, he and 3 school buddies from the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn founded the Linc-Tones, soon to be re-named the Tokens. The original group included Neil Sedaka who went solo in 1960 and was replaced with Jay Siegel who sang most of the leads. The quartet also included brothers Mitch and Phil Margo.
In 1961, they scored a huge #1 hit with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" a reworking in street corner style of a Zulu song from South African that a decade earlier had become a folk staple as "Wim-o-weh’ by the Weavers. Later that year they charted Top 15 with "Tonight I Fell In Love". In 1966 and 1967 they charted Top 40 with "I Hear Trumpets Blow" and "Portrait Of My Love".
The Tokens were exceptionally skilled producers, one of the few instances where a group’s studio time was mainly in service to others. They produced "Sweet Talkin’ Guy", "He’s So Fine", and "One Fine Day" for the Chiffons. Other 60’s Top 10 productions included "See You in September" and "I Got Rhythm" (Happenings). In the 70’s they continued their winning streak with "Knock Three Times", "Candida", and "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" for Tony Orlando & Dawn.
In 1973, Mr. Medress left the Tokens to concentrate on solo producing and worked with artists like Dan Hill, Melissa Manchester, David Johansen, and Rick Springfield
From 1990 to 1992 Mr. Medress was the publisher of EMI Music Publishing Canada, and upon returning to New York became a partner in Bottom Line Records which recorded live recordings by established and up-and-coming artists at Greenwich Village’s Bottom Line Club. In recent years, Mr. Medress had worked as a consultant for Sound Exchange.