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Mitch Margo, who took 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' to No. 1 in 1961, dead at 70

Mitch Margo, who rose to fame with the 1961 hit song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” died at his California home, The Los Angeles Times reported. He was 70.

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Family members said Margo died Nov. 24 in Studio City but did not give a cause.

Margo was a 14-year-old attending high school in Brooklyn, New York, when he formed The Tokens, the Times reported.

The group based “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on a recording of a Zulu folk song, turning it into a doo-wop hit. It hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts on Dec. 23, 1961, and stayed there for three weeks before being supplanted by Chubby Checker’s hit “The Twist,” which hit No. 1 for the second time on Jan. 13, 1962.

The Tokens followed up with several minor hits, including “I Hear Trumpets Blow” and “Portrait of My Love,” the Times reported.

Margo teamed with his brother Phil and two others in The Tokens. He later produced hits for bands such as The Chiffons and Tony Orlando and Dawn. He also wrote musical scores for television projects and did artwork for children’s books, the Times reported.

“Mitch was an adjective-defying human being,” Noah Margo, a nephew who played drums for the Tokens for 24 years, told the Times. “His humor, wit and slanted observations will be deeply missed.”

Margo was born May 25, 1947. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was originally written and recorded by Solomon Linda, a South African laborer, in 1939. The record was released by the Gallo Record Company under the title “Mbube,” the Zulu word for “lion,” the Times reported.

The song would be recorded by 150 different artists, including Robert John, who took the song to No. 3 on the Billboard charts in 1972 and earned a gold record. 

But when it was used in the film “The Lion King,” and generated an estimated $15 million in movie and stage revenues, Linda’s heirs sued the Walt Disney Co. and the music firm that licensed the song to Disney. The case was eventually settled by Linda's heirs for an estimated $1.6 million, the Times reported.

The Tokens, who made dramatic musical changes to the song, gave Linda credit but later fought to claim some share of the song's publishing rights, the Times reported. The group's lawsuit was ultimately dismissed due to a statute of limitations ruling.

Flat-Earth proponent B.o.B now questions if slavery happened

Atlanta rapper B.o.B, who started a GoFundMe campaign in September aiming to bankroll his quest to prove the Earth is flat, is back with more revisionist history.

This time he questions if slavery happened in America.

“You ever seen a slave ship? They can find a billion year old dinosaur bone but can’t find any slave ships,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

>> See the post here

He’s also not sure if the planet we all live on is a thing, either. “Earth is not a place. It’s a state of mind,” he tweeted.

To state the crushingly obvious, it’s not hard to find evidence of slave ships and other vestiges of slavery. Here’s an article in The Atlantic about efforts by a network of scholars and the Smithsonian to restore a sunken ship that wrecked in 1794.

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Here’s a link to the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collection of slavery artifacts, including articles of clothing, a “slave badge” and photos.

Here’s a link to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, located in Atlanta.

Soul Train Awards 2017: Complete winners list

Bruno Mars won big at the 2017 Soul Train Awards, taking home five awards. Check out the full list of winners from the show, which aired Sunday night on BET:

>> PHOTOS: Soul Train Awards 2017 red carpet

>> PHOTOS: Soul Train Awards 2017 show

  • Don Cornelius Legend Award: Toni Braxton
  • Lady of Soul Award: SWV
  • Best New Artist: SZA
  • Best R&B/Soul Male Artist: Bruno Mars
  • Best R&B/Soul Female Artist: SZA
  • Soul Train Certified Award: Bell Biv Devoe, Ledisi
  • Video of the Year: Bruno Mars, "24k Magic"
  • Best Gospel/Inspirational Award: Lecrae
  • Album/Mixtape of the Year: Bruno Mars, "24k Magic"
  • Rhythm & Bars Award: Cardi B, "Bodak Yellow"
  • Song of the Year: Bruno Mars, "That's What I Like"
  • The Ashford & Simpson Songwriter's Award: Troy L. John, Solange Knowles and Raphael Saadiq, "Cranes in the Sky"
  • Best Dance Performance: Bruno Mars, "24k Magic"
  • Best Collaboration: DJ Khaled, "Wild Thoughts (feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller) in the Sky"

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Photos: Soul Train Awards 2017 show

Check out some memorable moments from the 2017 Soul Train Awards. The show, filmed Nov. 5, aired Nov. 26 on BET.

Photos: Soul Train Awards 2017 red carpet

Check out some of the most memorable looks from the 2017 Soul Train Awards red carpet. The show, filmed Nov. 5, aired Nov. 26 on BET.

For King & Country releases intense ‘Little Drummer Boy’ cover

There’s no simple pa rum pum pum pum in a new version of the Christmas carol staple “Little Drummer Boy.”

For King & Country, a Christian pop duo, have released their take on the holiday song that spotlights the drummer of the “Little Drummer Boy.”

It’s much louder and percussion-heavy than the famous Bing Crosby and David Bowie version that’s heard ad nauseam once radio stations switch format to all Christmas music all the time.

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The video, which was recently posted on Facebook, has already reached nearly 8 million views.

And for those who consider themselves more traditional when it comes to their Christmas music, click here for the Crosby/Bowie version.

As for fans of the new version, For King and Country have released their first full-length Christmas album called Christmas Live from Phoenix.

Foo Fighters, Guns N’ Roses pay tribute to AC/DC’s Malcolm Young

The Foo Fighters and Guns N’ Roses paid tribute to Malcolm Young, the AC/DC rhythm guitarist who died Saturday at age 64. Both bands dedicated songs during their respective concerts to Young, who died three years after being diagnosed with dementia.

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The Foo Fighters opened its concert in Mexico City’s Corona Capital Festival with a blistering version of the 1977 A/C song, “Let There Be Rock,” Rolling Stone reported.

“We're going to play some rock ’n’roll for Malcolm tonight,” Dave Grohl told the crowd as a photo of Young was shown behind the band on the festival's large video screen.

>> AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64

Earlier in the day in a written tribute to Young, Grohl said that AC/DC's 1980 concert film “Let There Be Rock” “changed my life,” Rolling Stone reported.

Guns N' Roses played in Sacramento, California on Saturday. Although Axl Rose did not perform alongside Malcolm while he was the guest lead singer for AC/DC. The singer remains close to Malcolm's younger brother Angus Young, Rolling Stone reported.

“We're gonna dedicate this to Malcolm Young, who will be sorely missed. By none more than his brother Angus,” Rose told the crowd as Slash played a solo rendition of Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed."

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths, 2017

Guns N' Roses then dedicated its covers of both Bob Dylan's “Knockin' on Heaven's Door” and AC/DC's “Whole Lotta Rosie” to the late guitarist.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Slash said "Malcolm Young was one of the best-ever rhythm guitarists in rock ’n’ roll. He was a fantastic songwriter and he had a great work ethic too. I toured with AC/DC on their 'Stiff Upper Lip' tour. I found Malcolm to be a really cool, down to earth fellow. The entire rock ’n’ roll community is heartbroken by his passing.”

Country music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis dead at 85

Country Music Hall of Famer Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning in Ocala, Florida, according to his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs. He was 85.

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In his six-decade career, the singer recorded more than 60 albums, had three dozen Top 10 singles and wrote several hit songs that are now regarded as classics, the Tennessean reported.

During the 1960s, Tillis’ songs charted for several artists, with hits like “Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town),” “Mental Revenge” and “Detroit City,” becoming classics, the Tennessean reported.

As a recording artist, Tillis scored during the 1970s with two dozen Top 10 hits. Five of them topped the charts, including “Coca Cola Cowboy” in 1979.

His other No. 1 hits were “I Ain’t Never” in 1972, “Good Woman Blues”  in 1976, “Heart Healer” in 1976, “I Believe in You” in 1978. He also went to No. 1 in 1980 with “Southern Rains.”

The Country Music Association named Tillis Entertainer of the Year in 1976, the Tennessean reported, and he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame that same year.

Tillis appeared on several television shows, including “Hee Haw” and “Hollywood Squares.” He also appeared in films such as “Cannonball Run” and “Smokey and the Bandit.” He  did commercials for Whataburger, a fast-food restaurant chain, the Tennessean

reported.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born on Aug. 8, 1932, near Tampa, Fla. He developed a speech impediment after a childhood bout of malaria, the Tennessean reported. But he used the stammer to his advantage as an entertainer.

“After a lot of years and more hurting than I like to remember, I can talk about it lightly — which eases things a bit,” he wrote in “Stutterin' Boy,” his 1984 autobiography. “It's a way of showing people that it hasn't licked me, so it doesn't have to lick others.”

In 2007, Tillis was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame by his daughter, singer Pam Tillis. Later that year, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

"I'm just so thankful, for everything," he  said when he was inducted.

In 2011, Tillis was named a National Medal of Arts recipient for his contributions to country music, the Tennessean reported. He received his award in February 2012 during a White House ceremony.

AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64

Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, the co-founder of the rock ’n’ roll group AC/DC, died Saturday, Rolling Stone reported and the band announced on its website. He was 64.

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Young had been suffering from dementia for the past three years, which forced his retirement from the band that he founded with his brother Angus Young in 1973.

"Today it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young," AC/DC wrote on its site. “Malcolm, along with Angus, was the founder and creator of AC/DC. With enormous dedication and commitment he was the driving force behind the band. As a guitarist, songwriter and visionary he was a perfectionist and a unique man. He always stuck to his guns and did and said exactly what he wanted. He took great pride in all that he endeavored. His loyalty to the fans was unsurpassed.”

Angus Young added, "As his brother it is hard to express in words what he has meant to me during my life, the bond we had was unique and very special. He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever. Malcolm, job well done.”

The Young brothers lost their older brother, George Young, who was the band’s longtime producer and a guitarist for the Easybeats, on Oct. 23. George Young was 70 when he died.

>> AC/DC producer, Easybeats guitarist George Young dead at 70

In a statement to Australia's SBS, the band said that Malcolm Young died peacefully Saturday with his family by his side.

“Renowned for his musical prowess, Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many,” the statement said. “From the outset, he knew what he wanted to achieve and, along with his younger brother, took to the world stage giving their all at every show. Nothing less would do for their fans.”

Malcolm Young was last featured on the band's Black Ice tour, which ran from 2008 to 2010 and is the fourth-highest grossing tour of all time, SBS reported.

Malcolm Young, like his older brother George and younger brother Angus, was born in Glasgow, Scotland before the whole Young family emigrated to Sydney, Australia in the early 1960s, Rolling Stone reported.

Malcolm and Angus named the band after the “AC/DC” electrical current marker that they observed on their sisters sewing machine, Rolling Stone reported.

The brothers were the creative forces behind hits like “Highway to Hell,” “Back in Black,” “Highway to Hell,” “Thunderstruck,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” and “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).”

Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine tweeted that he was “losing it that Malcolm is gone,  I hate this.”

David Coverdale of Whitesnake tweeted that Young was “a great guy” and “a pleasure to know.”

“Truly missed,” he added.

The Young brothers and AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, Rolling Stone reported. The band sold more than 110 million albums worldwide.

In September 2014 the band said Malcolm Young had left the group because of the onset of dementia, The Guardian reported.

In November 2014, Angus Young told The Guardian that his brother had developed symptoms when the group recorded the “Black Ice” album in 2008, and that he had to relearn songs between shows.

“It was hard work for him,” Angus Young said. “He was relearning a lot of those songs that he knew backwards; the ones we were playing that night he’d be relearning.”

Louisiana veteran entertains motorists with saxophone

A Vietnam War veteran has become a fixture for music lovers in his Louisiana town.

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Donald Givens plays saxophone for several hours daily in his gazebo at his Monroe residence. His yard is located near the corner of two overpasses and commuters can listen to his daily jam sessions, the News-Star reported.

Strangers pull up to his home and ask Givens to play, sometimes handing the 67-year-old money for music requests. Some residents in Monroe simply refer to him as the saxophone man.

"I don't feel famous,” he told the News-Star.

He may not be as famous as another Monroe native -- jazz tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson -- but Givens loves to create music.

In addition to the saxophone, he can also play the piano and guitar. Givens became entranced with the saxophone after hearing it during a church service, the News-Star reported.

At the same time, he started learning guitar.

"Once you know how to read music, I think you've got well over half of the battle won because you can recognize the notes to any instrument,” Givens told the News-Star. “I just needed to know where B or C was on the saxophone. I could recognize it on the sheet music.”

He started trying to copy Kenny G and other well-known saxophonists.

“When I first started, I would play inside the house. When I got pretty decent I went out to the driveway, and when I thought I was pretty good, I went out to the gazebo,” he said.

His favorite pieces to play include "Jesus, You're the Center of My Joy," " You Are So Beautiful," "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," and "Memory."

Givens said he can play four to five hours without getting winded now, and he loves to keep practicing because there is no end goal with music.

“You can never master it,” he said. “It's unending.”

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