The group was formed in 1955 at Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High School, and was known as the Linc-Tones. Originally featuring members Neil Sedaka, Hank Medress, Eddie Rabkin, and Cynthia Zolotin, Rabkin was replaced by Jay Siegel in 1956, and the band recorded its first single, "While I Dream" that same year. In 1957 Sedaka and Zolotin left the band, leaving only Jay and Hank, who would recruit two additional band members and record the single "Picture in my Wallet" as Darrell & the Oxfords. Finally establishing its most famous name and lineup, the band become known as The Tokens in 1960 after Jay and Hank recruited 13-year-old multi-instrumentalist and first tenor Mitch Margo and his baritone brother Phil Margo and guitarist Joe Venneri.
In early 1961, The Tokens released a single for Warwick Records entitled "Tonight I Fell In Love," which went to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and earned them an opportunity to appear on American Bandstand. The popularity that the band garnered as a result of this performance brought them new recording opportunities, culminating in their famous cover of Solomon Linda's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" for the RCA Victor. Jay Siegel's characteristic lead vocals helped the song rise to #1 on the Billboard charts, where it remained for three weeks.
From 1962 to 1970, the group released nine more songs that made it into the Top 100, including "I Hear Trumpets Blow" (1964) and "Portrait of My Love" (1967). During this period the group also recorded the song "A Victim of Gravity," which was featured on Schoolhouse Rock!. Beginning in 1963, the Tokens also began serving as producers for other artists, such as the Chiffons, Randy & the Rainbows, and the Happenings. In 1973, Medress left the group and Siegel teamed with the Margo Brothers to form the group Cross Country, which would encounter some success with its cover of "In the Midnight Hour." The Tokens would reunite in 1975 for occasional weeks as singing regulars on the Adam Wade hosted game show Musical Chairs and in 1978 recorded a song for ABC's Schoolhouse Rock called "A Victim of Gravity".
In 2004 The Tokens were inducted into the Hall Of Fame for Music and Vocals Group.