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Monday, March 21


Today in 2006 Soloman Linda's' three daughters were granted 25% of all past and future royalties from the song: The Lion Sleeps tonight. Solomon Popoli Linda (1909- 1962), also known as Solomon Ntsele ("Linda" was his clan name.
He was a Zulu musician from South Africa. As a singer and composer Linda wrote the song "Mbube". Mbube was later transformed into the HUGE hit song The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Linda died in 1962 with $25 dollars in his bank account; obviously he did not receive any royalties from his song.

Linda wrote the song in 1939 when he worked as a cleaner for a Johannesburg record company. Linda recorded the song with the band he formed: The Evening Birds. The song had sold 100,000 copies in Africa by 1948.
They were very popular in Africa.
He sold the rights to the Gallo Record Company for 10 shillings (less than $2 US). The sale of the rights was apparently in contradiction to British Law in force at the time and the rights should have been reverted to Linda's heirs 25 years after his death in 1962. Hence, lawsuit!

In the early 1950's, the original South African recording was send to folk musician Pete Seeger of the Weavers. Pete then retitled the song "Wimoweh"and the Weavers then went on to gain Top 20 on the USA charts in 1952 with the new recording. Then in 1959 the Kingston Trio recorded the song and had success.
The Weavers had recorded a version of "Wimoweh" in 1961 at Carnegie Hall and it is this version that caught the eye of George Weiss of the Tokens. He then re-wrote the song and called it "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". The song we all know and love - especially the kidlets from Disney's The Lion King.
It is estimated that The Lion King royalties due to the 3 daughters was in the neighborhood of 15 million dollars alone! In addition to Disney, the song will receive royalties from all whom have recorded it: Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, The Tokens, Karl Denver and R.E.M. I would love to hear R.E.M.'s version, I didn't know they covered it. I tried to find it on YouTube, but nothing but hackers!

How fantastic is this that a song can be stolen (okay so $2 was the sell price, but let's call a spade a spade here!) and then recovered decades later to the rightful owner?! I have sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight around a campfire for well over 20 years now and I can say from experience that folks just don't get sick of the song! When I play an acoustic show I start a medley with The Lion Sleeps tonight, then go into The Everly Brothers, The Beatles etc. What do you think? Should I get the band going and insert it into our set list?

The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens Vid:

Cheerz & have a HUGE day!
Chow Mein Noodle
Netty xo

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