Ian Cowley, Royston, Herts  22/September/2017 - London time is 01:48 (BST)
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Wimoweh...

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

A Potted History

This has to be my all-time favorite song.
Yes, it even out-does 'New York City' by They Might Be Giants
I am, in fact, so obsessed with this song that I currently have 86 different recordings of it, by 72 different artists.
They are listed below:

But first, some links:
I couldn't even hope to outdo this history of the song.
There's a less complete history here
There are lyrics to the Lebo M version here

Artist Song Title
?? The Lion Sleeps Tonight MIDI 1
?? The Lion Sleeps Tonight MIDI 2
?? The Lion Sleeps Tonight MIDI 3
   
Acapela2 The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Alley Cats The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Ally & Jo The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Arlo Guthrie & Pete Seeger Wimoweh
Barbados The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Barbados The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Caribbean Version)
Belvederes The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Bert Kaempfert Wimoweh
Brian Eno The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Cayuga's Waiters The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Chestnut Hill Academy Hill Tones The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Chet Atkins Wimoweh
Chi Rho The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Dave Newman The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Dennis Marcellino The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Dictionarioke The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Die Klipwerf Boereorkes The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Drew The Lion Sleeps Tonite
Earle Mankey The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Eek-a-mouse The Lion Sleeps Tonite
Eightballs The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Fabulous Delacardos The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Flying Pickets The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Helmut Lotti The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Hoja The Lion Sleeps Tonight
James Last Wimoweh
Jungle Rmble Band The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Justin Guarini The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Karaoke Lion Sleeps Tonight
Karl Denver Wimoweh - Box Set Version
Karl Denver Wimoweh - Live
Karl Denver Wimoweh - Original
Karl Denver Wimoweh - Reprise
Kingston Trio Wimoweh
Ladysmith Black Mambazo The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Lebo M (From The Lion king) The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Lion King (Broadway) The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Lou Christie The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Mahotella Queens Mbube
Mango Groove The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Manu Dibango Wimoweh
Mark Cerlo Orchestra The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Mavericks The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Miriam Makeba Mbube
Nancy Griffith Wimoweh
New Christy Minstrels The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Notre Dame Undertones The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Nylons The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Nylons The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Extended)
N'Sync The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Party Animals The Lion Sleeps Tonight
P.J. Powers Hotline The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Perikles The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Pottery Barn The Lion Sleeps Tonight
R.E.M. The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Red Grammer (Sing-along) Wimoweh/The Lion Sleeps Tonight
RIT's Eight-Beat Measure The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Rivets The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Robert John The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Rockapella The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Roger Whitaker Wimoweh (Lion sleeps Tonight)
Sandra Bernhard The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Serenade The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Solomon Linda's Original Evening Birds Mbube
Stylistics The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Sugar Beats The Lion Sleeps Tonight
They Might Be Giants The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)
Tight Fit The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Timun & Pumba The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Tokens The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Tokens Wimoweh Reprise
Tokens Wimoweh (Club Mix 89)
Tokens Wimoweh (Dub Mix 89)
Tokens Wimoweh (Radio Mix 89)
Tonic Sol-Fa The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Townsmen The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Trenchcoats The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Vito and the Twilights The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Voice Male The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Weavers Wimoweh (Live)
Weavers Wimoweh (Live Reunion)
Weavers Wimoweh (Mbube)
West India Company The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Yma Sumac Wimoweh

"What's the difference between 'Wimoweh' and 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'?" I hear you cry?
Well, Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds released the original 'Mbube' (in 1939), which is in Zulu. The history of the song when it was brought to these shores is scattered, although it is known that the phonetic pronounciation of 'mbube' is very close to 'wimoweh', and that's where the lyric came from. The song 'wimoweh' is based quite strongly on 'Mbube'.
The Weavers did a cover in the late 1950's. The Tokens liked the tune and penned the familiar 'Lion' lyrics, and recorded the song in the very early 60's.
Not having any copyright and embarrased by the falsetto voice bit, they didn't release the song, until their record label convinced them too. The song went down a storm and hit No.1 for 3 weeks.
Karl Denver did a version or 5 of 'Wimoweh' at various stages.
Since then, there have been many, many covers of 'Lion', and some more of 'Wimoweh', too.

This page updated on 18 December 2015 at 21:58