Song title 306 - The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Search this site with Google

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Region Profile

This page lists the chart runs for songs called "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in order of success. This list combines cover versions and distinct songs that happen to share the same title.

The original version from 1939, was called "Mbube" and was by Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds, (Mbube is Zulu for lion). The Weavers called it "Wimoweh" because they misheard the original chorus of "Uyimbube" (Zulu for 'You are a lion'). Other groups have called it "The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)" or "Wimoweh (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)". Given this confusing set of alternate names we've selected the name used by The Tokens who had the biggest hit with it.

The song was written by Solomon Linda however by the time it was recorded by The Weavers they assumed it was traditional, so the record company TRO claimed the copyright for a fictitious person, "Paul Campbell". They justified this by claiming that South African copyrights were not valid because South Africa was not a signatory to US copyright law. TRO earned at least $15M just from its use in the film "The Lion King" alone, none of that money went to Solomon Linda. The film "A Lion's Trail" (2002) documents the story.

# Artist Song Title Year Chart Entries
1 The Tokens The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1961 US Billboard 1 - Nov 1961 (15 weeks), Canada 1 - Nov 1961 (11 weeks), NZ Lever 1 - Feb 1962 (6 weeks), US Gold (certified by RIAA in Jan 1962), Flanders 6 - Feb 1962 (3 months), US invalid BB 9 of 1961, POP 9 of 1961, US CashBox 10 of 1962, UK 11 - Dec 1961 (12 weeks), US Radio 21 of 1961 (peak 1 10 weeks), DDD 22 of 1961, WABC NY 44 of 1961, RIAA 159, Acclaimed 1666 (1961), RYM 13 of 1961
2 Tight Fit The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1982 UK 1 - Jan 1982 (15 weeks), Holland 1 - Mar 1982 (10 weeks), Belgium 1 - Mar 1982 (10 weeks), Eire 1 for 5 weeks - Feb 1982, Germany 3 - Mar 1982 (4 months), UK Gold (certified by BPI in Mar 1982), Austria 8 - May 1982 (2 weeks), Switzerland 8 - Apr 1982 (6 weeks), Sweden (alt) 17 - Apr 1982 (2 weeks), Poland 24 - May 1982 (4 weeks), Germany 279 of the 1980s (peak 3 13 weeks), UKMIX 962
3 Robert John The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1972 Record World 2 - 1972, US Billboard 3 - Jan 1972 (17 weeks), Canada 3 - Jan 1972 (11 weeks), US Gold (certified by RIAA in Mar 1972), US CashBox 10 of 1972, Australia Goset 15 - May 1972 (8 weeks), Springbok 15 - Apr 1972 (7 weeks), US Radio 18 of 1972 (peak 3 11 weeks), WABC NY 19 of 1972, US BB 21 of 1972, Brazil 99 of 1972
4 Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1939 Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007 (1939), Visconti song of 1939
5 The Weavers The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1952 US CashBox 13 - Feb 1952 (16 weeks), US Billboard 14 - Feb 1952 (11 weeks), US 1940s 14 - Mar 1952 (4 weeks), RYM 124 of 1952
6 Daniel Kublbock The Lion Sleeps Tonight 2004 Germany 17 - Feb 2004 (1 month), Austria 29 - Feb 2004 (1 week), Switzerland 37 - Feb 2004 (1 week)
7 Karl Denver The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1962 UK 4 - Jan 1962 (17 weeks)
8 Dave Newman The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1972 UK 34 - Apr 1972 (6 weeks)
9 The Cooldown Cafe The Lion Sleeps Tonight 2003 Holland 29 - Oct 2003 (2 weeks)
10 Love Machine The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1968 Australia Goset 26 - Oct 1968 (9 weeks)
11 REM The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1994 Poland 46 - Mar 1994 (3 weeks)
12 Brian Eno The Lion Sleeps Tonight 1975 RYM 148 of 1975

Comment on the contents of the 'Song title 306 - The Lion Sleeps Tonight' page
Subject: Email to Reply To (optional):  

Previous Comments (newest first)

13 Jul 2014

Solomon linda

Do you mean "Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds" who sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (which was copied by The Weavers and called "Wimoweh" because they misheard the lyrics)

Because that was 1939 not 1950


17 Jul 2011

No sleeping lion

I'm pretty sure that the title of your #80 Weavers song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was actually "Wimoweh".

You are right, the Weavers did call their version "Wimoweh" but the original name (the 1939 South African version by the Evening Birds) was "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". The Wikipedia page has an image of the most successful version by The Tokens which also uses this same name.

As we have mentioned elsewhere where alternate song titles or artist names are used (for example in different countries) we try and remain consistent rather than always reflecting the exact names used. There are plenty of places to find the exact title the Weavers used, we're more interested in comparing their worldwide success with that of The Tokens, Tight Fit and Robert John (and we think we're the best place to do that).

We'll add a note on to the song's page.

Thanks for the input