The Lion Sleeps Tonight. I think the worst hit version ever recorded of this song was by Tight Fit, a manufactured British group who took their recording to number one in the UK (as well as the heady heights of number three in New Zealand in May of 1982).
In America the best known version seems to be by The Tokens who had a hit with it in the 1960s. Nowadays it might be the version in The Lion King that has the most fame. The original song was composed and recorded in South Africa as Mbube (lion) in 1939 by Solomon Linda and The Evening Birds. The trail from Solomon Linda to The Lion King ends in a lawsuit, and royalties eventually heading back to Linda’s descendants.
I want to talk about other crimes. Not copyright crimes or crimes like the one committed by the Tokens’ guitarist below:
(No man should ever have a beard without a mo. Ever. Unless they’re in a fundamentalist religious group of some kind. I’m always unclear on why it is that some religious extremists shave above their top lip. I digress.)
But crimes like this from the original Tight Fit video:
A. Tarzan with a blonde on a vinyl sofa deep in the heart of the ten pot plants the BBC could afford to rent for this shoot in the Sound Editor’s spare room
B. Two African guys who the Director bumped into down the pub one night and promised stardom to (and a packet of crisps, “I insist, any flavour you like”). My favourite part in the whole video is the last five seconds when these guys clearly think the cameras have stopped rolling, stop bobbing their heads, and begin to think about what’s for tea.
C. I’d like to call these guys the Africa-is-not-a-country-honky duo. What the hell are they wearing? Are these two sketchily dressed Egyptians crossed with some Zulu warriors neither of whom come from jungle country, but then neither do lions so what the hell is going on, but never mind because it all came out of the fevered imaginings of some 18-year-old BBC lackey probably making 2p an hour anyway. If you follow.
D. Just departed: the saucy winking brunette and a gorilla. Even with a DNA match in the 90th percentile I feel like this relationship won’t work (“We’re just too different”).
Did I mention that I loved and still love this song, and this version of this song? No?
What’s not to like?