It's a safe bet that most people have heard the song, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", either from Disney's The Lion King, or Top 40 Radio, during the 60's and 70's courtesy of The Tokens and Robert John. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"s origins though, predate The Tokens 1961 record release by almost 30 years.
Originally recorded and written by Zulu songwriter Solomon Linda and his band The Evening Birds for the South African Gallo Record Company in 1939, under the title "Mbube", (Zulu for "lion") the song sold over 100,000 copies in Africa and among black South African immigrants in Great Britain, by 1948.
In 1949, Alan Lomax, working as folk music director for Decca Records, brought Solomon Linda's 78 recording to the attention of his friend Pete Seeger. Seeger then recorded a version of the song with his group, The Weavers. Calling their version “Wimoweh”, the word Seeger thought he was hearing in the chorus, their 1952 record became a top 20 hit. The writing credit went to “Paul Campbell,” a pseudonym for the group. There was no mention of Solomon Linda, and he never earned any money from the sales. Pete Seeger had said of the publishing situation, “I didn’t realize what was going on, and I regret it. I have always left money up to other people. I was kind of stupid.”
In the 1950s, after Linda's authorship was made clear, Seeger sent Linda $1000. Seeger also instructed TRO/Folkways to henceforth pay his share of authors' earnings to Linda. The folksinger apparently trusted his publisher's word of honor and either saw no need, or was unable to make sure these instructions were carried out. Solomon Linda died in poverty from kidney disease in 1962 at age 53.
In 2000, South African journalist Rian Malan wrote a feature article for Rolling Stone magazine in which he recounted Linda's story and estimated that the song had earned $15 million for its use in the Disney movie The Lion King alone. That article prompted filmmaker François Verster to create the Emmy-winning documentary A Lion's Trail, which told Linda's story while also exposing the workings of the multi-million dollar corporate music publishing industry.
In July 2004, as a result of the publicity generated by Malan's article and the subsequent documentary, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" became the subject of a lawsuit between Linda's estate and Disney, claiming that Disney owed $1.6 million in royalties for the use of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in the film and musical stage productions of The Lion King. At the same time, the Richmond Organization began to pay $3,000 annually into Linda's estate. As part of the settlement with Abilene Music, which owns the publishing rights, Linda's heirs receive 25% of past and future royalties from the song, which are considerable since it is used in so many movies and still receives airplay.
A Token Reference... The Tokens, had a Top 15 hit "Tonight I Fell in Love" in 1960, but didn't have a label deal in 1961. They auditioned for producers Hugo and Luigi (Peretti and Creatore) by singing "Wimoweh" to them. Hugh and Luigi were impressed by the performance but decided that the song needed new lyrics. With help from George Weiss, Hugo and Luigi rewrote the song, giving it the title "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The Tokens were so embarrassed with the new title and lyrics that they fought the release of the recording (it was scheduled to be the B-side of another "import," a Portuguese song that they recorded in the same May 1961 session, "Tina").
A more detailed history of Solomon Linda's sad story relating to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" can be found here.
Interested in hearing Solomon Linda and The Evening Birds's original version ? Click here...
Other sources for the article are below:
The Martytoon Newsletter
The Thoughts, Designs & Process of Marty Qatani aka MartyToons.
Hi and welcome to the first blog post / newsletter of the all new revamped MartyToons website. Where to start ? I suppose a quick intro is in order for those of you who may be unfamiliar with me and what I do. I'm a cartoonist / character designer/ humorous illustrator. That sounds like a lengthy title, but none of those by themselves seems appropriate enough by themselves to describe what I do.
If I call myself a cartoonist, people tend to think I create a comic strip.... not true. If I call myself just a character designer, it seems a little limiting to me. I like to think I do a little bit more... make people think... wake people up, help someone remember a happy thought.... maybe even put a smile on people's faces.... hopefully. Calling myself just a humorous illustrator, just doesn't seem to have any "punch", "pizzazz", "sparkle"... you get the picture. I do like the sound of "Creator of Visual Enhancements for Artistically Challenged and Cartooning Impaired." It has a pretty cool ring to me, but it's a little hard to fit on a business card and still look cool.
What can you expect here ? How's a little doodle sound ? A little peek into what goes on in my working process and maybe even in my thought process ? That's my plan... I hope you enjoy. So let me dig into my archive, maybe shed a little light on happened and then invite you to comment. Sounds good ? Good... then lets get to it.
This is an early sketch of one of my favorite designs I'm working on. It's inspired by one of my favorite music artists, Cat Stevens, who know goes by the name of Yusuf Islam https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Stevens . Check him out if you get the chance and are a fan of 70's "Soft" Rock, and especially if you're a fan of songs about being positive, hopefullness, and becoming a little wiser.
Music is playing more and more a part in my designs. I love many styles of music and I always have it playing in my studio while I'm creating. Alot of times I let the music direct what I'm going to sketch when I intentionally sit down to sketch, sometimes I'm not planning on sketching at all, but I hear a song and an image will just pop into my head, and I have to get it down on paper. I believe that's what happened here, but to be honest, I came up with this sketch several years ago, and I can't remember the exact circumstances that gave birth to this.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoy it. Got any questions ? Feel free to comment below.