The Lion Sleeps Tonight

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight is one of several artists to Millionenseller matched song , which in 1939 by South African Solomon Linda composed and in the same year of Solomon Linda's Original Evening Birds as Mbube was sung. In various cover versions (including Wimoweh ) it changed the music title several times .

History of origin

Solomon Linda - Mbube (1939)

The idea for the song came from the South African Solomon Linda while chasing lions that attacked cattle herds. His vocal group Evening Birds was discovered in 1938 by a talent scout and placed in the recording studio of Eric Gallo in Johannesburg . In August 1939 he recorded two pieces with them as Solomon Linda's Original Evening Birds, including the song that was created under the influence of the lion hunt as Mbube ("lion" in the language isiZulu ), a simple song that is based on just three chords. The Evening Birds sang in the occupation of Solomon Linda (soprano), Gilbert Madondo (Alt), Boy Sibiya (tenor), Gideon Mkhize / Samuel Mlangeni / Owen Sikhakhane (bass) and were in their ecstatic a cappella chants until the third Take accompanied by guitar, banjo and piano. Griffith Motsieloa acted as music producer . The master tape was sent to England, where the singles were pressed and sent back to South Africa.

Publication and Success

The single Mbube / Ngi Hambiki was released in September 1939 on Gallo's own record label Gallo Records (GE 829), without a copyright being registered in favor of the author Solomon Linda . That was because Linda had sold his copyrights for 10 shillings to Eric Gallo, who left the rights to his music publisher Gallo Music Publishing SA. The record label Gallo Records was the largest label in South Africa at the time. Mbube became a huge hit, selling over 100,000 copies. Mbube was the starting point for the South African form of singing and music of the same name, Isicathamiya .

First cover version

Inspired by the local successes, the record company Gallo Records sent a copy to the distribution partner Decca Records in the USA around 1949 , which initially showed no interest. When the folk singer Pete Seeger was made aware of the song by the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax in 1951 , Seeger wrote an English text entitled Wimoweh under the pseudonym Paul Campbell and recorded it with his accompanying group The Weavers on October 25, 1951 in the Decca Studio Pythian Temple in New York under producer Milt Gabler . However, Wimoweh was a hearing defect from the Zulu word Uyimbube ("he is a lion"), which is pronounced similarly to Wimoweh . The predominant instrumental recording in the big band style by the Sammy Lowe orchestra was released in November 1951 with "Wimoweh" vocal interludes by the Weavers on the single Wimoweh / Old Paint (Decca 27928) and reached 14th place on the US charts . The Weavers sold between 200,000 and a million copies of Wimoweh . Seeger had learned of the African roots of his hit and wanted to pass the royalties on to Gallo Records, but feared that they would not reach Solomon Linda. Instead, Seeger sent him a check for $ 1,000.

More cover versions

The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight (1961)

There are at least 150 cover versions ; Jimmy Dorsey grabbed Wimoweh be the first to (recorded on 4 February 1952). A live version of the Weavers followed on their LP The Weavers at Carnegie Hall (April 1957), Pete Seeger released the LP American Favorite Ballads Vol. 3 as a soloist on Folkways Records with Wimoweh (produced by Moses Asch ; FA 2322; 1959) . The Kingston Trio took it over for the LP Live from the Hungry i (January 1959), which rose to number 2 in the LP charts. Miriam Makeba recorded the song several times (first in May 1960 with the Chad Mitchell Trio).

When the tokens were looking for a new record label, they sang Wimoweh to music producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, who proposed a new text. With the help of George David Weiss - of for Doris Day and Peggy Lee arranged - and Albert Stanton was born in July 1961, based on the original Coda the third Take the idea to hook "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight." Drums imitated African jungle rhythms , Jay Siegel sang falsetto lead. During the counter melody of the saxophone, the high voice of the opera soprano Anita Darian can be heard. In this form, it was believed that they had created a new composition and registered it with the music publisher Abilene Music. Under the title The Lion Sleeps Tonight , the group appeared unattractive title as Tina's B-side on October 17, 1961. Immediately, the B-side received more airplay and finally reached first place in the pop hit parade, where it stayed for three weeks . With over six million copies sold, it was one of the most successful hits of 1961.

Karl Denver subsequently brought the title Wimoweh to fourth place in England (December 1961). Other versions under this title are by Terry Lightfoot , Chris Barber , Hugh Masekela (LP Trumpet Africaine ; May 1963) and Manu Dibango . The German text under the title The Lion Sleeps Tonight is by Kurt Feltz , sung by the Frenchman Henri Salvador (March 1962, # 23). It was followed by the New Christy Minstrels (LP Wanderin 'Minstrels ; October 1965). In Robert John's single version (November 1971), in addition to the title The Lion Sleeps Tonight , Wimomweh and Mbube as well as all composers ("Linda, Peretti, Creatore, Weiss, Stanton, Campbell") were listed on the label . It was listed at number 3 in the charts, became a million seller and received the gold record on December 15, 1971. Other versions are by Panama Francis , Samy Lowe and The Nylons .

The Walt Disney Company took over the song as a film score for their film production The Lion King in 1994 . Another number-one hit landed Tight Fit in January 1982. Pow woW reached with the French version Le lion est mort ce soir 1992 number four on the French charts. Daniel Küblböck took 7th place in the German single charts with his new recording. The token hit ranks 159th in the Songs of the Century . Further versions under the title The Lion Sleeps Tonight are by Michel Godard and Dr. Michael White .

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, songwriter and satirist Roy Zimmerman published a parody entitled "The Liar Tweets Tonight" on the video platform YouTube , in which American President Donald Trump is portrayed as a self-indulgent liar and demand that he be voted out.

Copyright problems

Solomon Linda ( Solomon Tsele , born 1909 in Ladysmith ) died in October 1962, leaving his three daughters with a cash fortune of $ 25. He had sold his copyrights to Mbube when it was published to the music publisher Gallo Music Publishing SA and thus no longer formally had a legal claim as the composer of the song. Wimoweh and his later adaptation, The Lion Sleeps Tonight , had various composers and music publishers. Wimoweh was written by Paul Campbell, with Pete Seeger hiding behind it; Music publisher was The Richmond Organization TRO / Folkways Music, owned by Howard Richmond and Al Brackman. The Lion Sleeps Tonight in turn contained Peretti / Creatore / Weiss / Stanton as the author and Abilene Music as the music publisher. On January 1, 1992, this music title received a copyright extension in the USA in favor of Weiss / Creatore / Peretti on the condition that 10% of the authors' income be transferred to South Africa.

The music magazine Rolling Stone published an article about the song history by the South African journalist Rian Malan in May 2000 and got the ball rolling. The article began with the sentence that first a Zulu man made spells and then the white man made the money. In 2001 the South African lawyer Hanro Friedrich and Owen Dean represented the three daughters in the copyright dispute. In 2003, the lawyers discovered that a clause in the South African Imperial Copyright Act of 1911 allowed rights to be returned 25 years after the author's death on his heir; that would have been 1987. In September 2004 a South African court ruled to this effect.

In 2005, the music publisher Folkways Music Publishers announced that in future it would leave all royalties to Linda's heirs. Finally, Linda's daughters sued Abilene Music in 2004 for $ 1.5 million in damages and reached an out-of-court settlement in February 2006, according to which the heirs received 25% of the royalties collected since 1987 and future royalties. The royalties from the film music alone are estimated at $ 15 million, and total they should amount to $ 72 million. Disney paid $ 1.25 million of film revenue to the heirs.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rian Malan in Harold M. Evans: The Best American Magazine Writing 2001. 2009, pp. 55 ff.
  2. ^ South African Audio Archive
  3. ^ Rian Malan in Harold M. Evans: The Best American Magazine Writing 2001. 2009, p. 56
  4. ^ Rian Malan: The Lion Sleeps Tonight. 2013, no p.
  5. Charles Hamm: Putting Pupular Music in its Place. 2006, p. 235
  6. Margret Richek, Susanne Picci: World of Essential College Vocabulary. 2012, p. 40
  7. according to the weavers manager Harold Leventhal
  8. according to Pete Seeger
  9. a b c d Tom Lord : The Jazz Discography (online, February 15, 2014)
  10. ^ Rian Malan in Harold M. Evans: The Best American Magazine Writing 2001. 2009, o. P.
  11. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records. 1985, p. 158
  12. ^ David A. Jasen: A Century of American Popular Music. 2013, no p.
  13. ^ Joseph Murrells: Million Selling Records. 1985, p. 326
  15. ^ Roy Zimmerman : The Liar Tweets Tonight on YouTube , April 21, 2020, accessed April 27, 2020.
  16. ^ Rolling Stone, May 25, 2000 issue, In the Jungle : “First the Zulu man made magic. Then white man made money. "
  17. ^ Spoor / Fisher March 1, 2006, The Lion Song Factsheet
  18. ^ Rian Malan in Harold M. Evans: The Best American Magazine Writing 2001. 2009
  19. ^ Marigold Reynolds: Epiphany. 2007, p. 92