The Lion Sleeps Tonight
(George Weiss - Hugo Peretti - Luigi Creatore - Albert Stanton - 'Paul Campbell' [The Weavers])
Australia 1968
#9 Sydney #4 Brisbane

For this recording on Festival, producer Pat Aulton recruited the members of Tymepiece, a Sydney band that originated as punk/garage band The Black Diamonds in the New South Wales coal town of Lithgow. See The Blog for commentary on The Black Diamonds' classic song See The Way.

Reference: Ian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop. Suggestion from Terry Stacey.

Le Lion Est Mort Ce Soir
France 1962
#3 France

Version by popular French singer, guitarist, songwriter and TV host Henri Salvador (1917-2008), born in French Guiana. He was also popular in Brazil and is thought to have been influential in the development of bossa nova through his song Dans mon île (1957).

Pow Wow had a #4 hit in France with Le Lion Est Mort Ce Soir in 1992

Reference, further reading: The Wikipedia article is a good summary and has links to other sources. See also the article on bossa nova which mentions Salvador's contribution.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight
(George Weiss - Hugo Peretti - Luigi Creatore - Albert Stanton)
USA 1961
Original version with these lyrics
#1 USA #11 UK #1 Sydney #14 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #3 Adelaide #2 Perth

Single on RCA label.

The lyrics are by George Weiss, who reworked Wimoweh and added the "lion sleeps tonight" lyrics after the Tokens decided to record their version of the Weavers' 1951 record.

Peretti and Creatore were a top producing team at RCA known as Hugo & Luigi, or 'Huge & Luge' as the Tokens called them.

The name of Albert Stanton, added after the initial release of the single, was a fictitious credit often used by the original American publishers of Wimoweh in the early 50s, especially for songs believed to be out of the public domain. See Rian Malan's article, cited below.

For a good summary of this New York group, see Tom Simon's
Tokens Page. Three members of The Tokens went on to form
Cross Country in the 70s.

Buy At

('Paul Campbell' [The Weavers])
UK 1961
#4 UK #2 Sydney #3 Brisbane #2 Adelaide

Single on Decca label.

Wild version of The Weavers' record by Glasgow-born singer (1931-1998), real name Angus McKenzie. See tribute to Karl Denver at the Billy Fury website.

See also My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes.

('Paul Campbell' [The Weavers])
USA 1951
Original version with these lyrics

Produced, with orchestra and chorus, by Gordon Jenkins for the Vanguard label.

'Paul Campbell' was a name used by the Weavers as a group songwriting credit. The Weavers were Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman. The impassioned vocal line on Wimoweh is performed by Pete Seeger.

Seeger, who transcribed the lyrics from the original African recording, rendered the Zulu chant Uyimbube, uyimbube as "Wimoweh, wimoweh".

Wimoweh was a huge success, and was recorded by numerous artists including Yma Sumac (1952), Jimmy Dorsey (1952), The Kingston Trio (1959) and Miriam Makeba (as Mbube, 1960). See the list of versions compiled by Fred Clemens at Bob Shannon's Behind the Hits.

(Solomon Linda)
South Africa 1939
Original version

78 rpm record on Gallotone label (see label scan at 3rd Ear Music).

Not a traditional song, as sometimes supposed, but an original song composed by Solomon Linda (1909-1962) in the Johannesberg studio of Eric Gallo.

The story of Mbube-Wimoweh-Lion Sleeps Tonight is long and complicated. The definitive account is by Rian Malan in his article Where Does the Lion Sleep Tonight?, first published in Rolling Stone but reprinted online at 3rd Ear Music along with an extensive follow-up discussion.

Although he was uncredited on earlier versions of his song, Solomon Linda's status as the original composer has been reinstated over the years, and there have been moves to have some of his long due royalties paid to his family.

Fred Clemens has compiled a list of dozens of versions of the song, online at Bob Shannon's Behind the Hits.

Later versions:

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) (Mbube)
(Solomon Linda - Hugo Peretti - Luigi Creatore - George Weiss - Albert Stanton - 'Paul Campbell' [The Weavers])
USA 1971
Later version
#3 USA #4 Melbourne #17 Brisbane #7 Adelaide #16 NZ

Singer from New York (b. 1946), full name Robert John Pedrick Jnr, whose biggest hit was Sad Eyes in 1979 (#1 USA). His first minor hit was in 1958 at the age of 12 under the name of Bobby Pedrick. See his biography at All Music Guide.

The title and songwriting credits on Robert John's version cover all bases: they represent a potted history of the song.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Some other later, charting versions:

Dave Newman The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) UK 1972
(#34 UK)

Dove The Lion Sleeps Tonight Australia 1976
(#9 Adelaide) More on Dove at this PopArchives page.

Tight Fit The Lion Sleeps Tonight UK 1982
(#1 UK #12 Sydney #19 Melbourne #7 Brisbane #6 Adelaide #1 Perth #3 NZ)

Pow Wow Le Lion Est Mort Ce Soir France 1992
(#4 France)

In the 90s, The Lion Sleeps Tonight was heard in Disney's The Lion King and in the Jim Carrey film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

For other versions, see Rian Milan's article and the list of versions compiled by Fred Clemens, both cited above.

Corrections or comments? Contact the writer.