Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Poor Solomon Linda
Many people don't know the name Solomon Linda but many know his very famous song. Solomon was born in South Africa and is the writer of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." He recorded this song in 1939 with his group "Evening Birds". It was first called "Mbube" which is the Zulu word for lion. The song was based on Solomon's boyhood experience chasing lions away from his family's cattle. It was released in South Africa and sold 100,000 copies. Solomon died in 1962. It is said that he had U.S. $25 to his name.
Solomon did not reap the full benefit of his song because he got a one time payment estimated at 10 shillings for recording it. In 2006, after 6 years of legal wrangling, Solomon's 3 daughters were able to benefit financially from their father's legacy because of a copyright law which says that all rights should revert to the creator's heirs 25 years after his death.
There have been over 160 versions of the song and it was used in the hit movie "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." It was recorded by the Weavers as "Wimoweh"(original word "uyembube") in 1951. The most famous version was done in 1961 by the Tokens as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". It became a number 1 hit. It is estimated that all of this should have earned Solomon's estate in the region of U.S. 15 million dollars in royalties.