3rd Ear Music 3rd Ear Music
Hidden Years ArchivesHidden Years ReiussesNews ForumLyricsProjectsGallery - Musicians & EventsAbout 3rd Ear MusicOrder PageLinks
Mbube - Letters, Links & Feedback - Part I < 1 2 >
  1. ISicathimeya CONCERT POSTER– 1969 – Hidden Years ArchiveRobert Tomashevsky comments:
    Interesting article, though I think some of the comments about Pete Seeger in Part I were a bit over the edge in harshness-especially given how many things in his life have been done for no dollar gain at all. I worked at Sing Out and Folkways Records in the late 50's and early 60's and every contact I ever had with Seeger was honest, forthright and just. The article even fails to mention that he refused to cooperate with the witch hunters and risked jail for those beliefs. He deserves a better hearing.
    Robert Tomashevsky
    ...see the letter from Joan Moore >>

    Editors note:
    Personally I don't think Rian implicated Pete Seeger in any wrongdoing - as I understand his investigations, anything but infact. Pete did what he could to help when he realised that things were wrong. Copyright was a foreign capitalist thing (and still is) to most socialists like Pete Seeger. (See John Barlow’s Economy of Ideas – especially the piece on Ideas by Thomas Jefferson). I would imagine that Seeger and friends simply sang and recorded the songs they loved. They certainly never made their fortunes. I did happen to work sound at a couple of gigs in which Pete and members of his Hudson River Sloop Group featured (Don MacLean, Rev Kirkpatrick, Ramblin' Jack Elliot among others) - USA 1969. Never formally having met Pete Seeger, I did ask him on stage, if I may take (and use) the photos that you can see on our website. I also did mention - very quickly - that I had worked for Doc Hugh Tracey at the ILAM in 1967. And it was Doc Tracey who sent Pete the tapes of Solomon's music in the 40's.

  2. Matt - comments:
    Folks: I read Rian Malan's article on Soloman Linda and "Mbube" with much interest.  I have an interest in actually hearing the oldest versions of this song.  Can you point me (and other readers) to CDs or other recordings where we could hear them?  Of particular interest, of course, is the original. Cheers, Matt

  3. Pete Seeger - Hudson River Sloop, Newport 1969 – by David MarksCarole - comments:
    Thank you for the great information.  There is a kid at a San Fernando Valley Blockbuster trying to say his dad wrote this and his dad is still alive!!! LOL

  4. Nigel Wallbridge - comments:
    This article has a special resonance for me because I found an original Gallotone 78 of Solomon Linda's Original Evening Birds in my dear old dead Dad's stuff.  It still sounds fantastic and its interesting to hear what really happened to the song. Thanks for the article. Nigel

  5. Philip Ward comments:
    "Imbube" by the SABC Easy Walkers, Recorded at the Glebelands Hostel, March 10th 1984. On the album "Iscathamiya (which is the type of music Mbube is derived from) - Zulu Worker Choirs from South Africa".  A Field recording from an all night choirs competition in a migrant workers' hostel, Natal (I think). The album was Heritage label HT 313, Interstate Music Ltd, Crawley, England.  It is now readily available as a CD.  The liner notes on the album are very interesting on the origins and hisotry of mbube music.

    This is one of a few of VEIT ERLMAN'S classic re-mastered albums > MBUBE ROOTS - Zulu Choral Music from South Africa - Rounder Records 1987.
    ...see the track list below >>
    Also available from Rounder is Veit's MBUBE ROOTS with many great SABC transcription tracks, most notably LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO recorded in 1967 (with a great 1968 photo of the group) and SOLOMON LINDA & THE EVENING BIRDS recorded in 1939 and 1940. The album goes back to those iSicathimeya recordings made by EMI Africa in 1932. Compiled and Produced by Veit Erlmann.

  6. Tina comments:
    Thanks for the article.  I was wondering where I can find a copy of "Tina" the A side to the Lion Sleeps Tonight.  Lyrics and music and record. I was born in 1962 and wonder if I got my name because of that song.... Thanks, Tina

    Ladysmith Black Mambazo 1968
    Ladysmith Black Mambazo 1968
    From left: Funokwakhe Mazibuko (boss), Malovoti Msimanga (bass), Jack Malingo (bass), Joseph Mazibuko (bass), Headman Shabalala (bass), Abet Mazibuko (tenor), Enoch Shabalala (bass), Milton Mazibuko (alto), Joseph Shabalala (soprano)
  7. Klaus Schiesewitz comments:
    There's also a danish version of Mbube. It's called "Vimmersvej" and was released by a danish pop/rockband called Bamses Venner in 1975.

    Rian Malan replies - Dear Klaus and Dave -- I first heard about the Danish version of "Lion" when a Danish TV reporter showed up here to do a piece about it last year. The story told so upset the comedian (?) behind Bamses Venner that he has decided to re-record the song (30th anniversary) in Johannesburg, with Linda's daughters singing the background "vimmersvehs" and all composer royalties going to the Zulu family. The session takes place this coming Monday. The world works in interesting ways. (27 January 2003 11:45)
    On the legal front Joburg copyright lawyer Owen Dean has finally formulated a battle strategy, and it looks like papers will be filed in London shortly. Stay tuned.
    Love and brotherhood, Rian
    PS Garth Chilvers (History of SA Rock) tells me that he and his partner Tom Jasiukowicz have compiled a list of usages and versions that tops 500. This is way more than I came up with. Why not get them to post it on your site?

  8. Fred Clemens comments:
    Re: where does the lion sleep tonight - I'd been compiling a listing of the various versions (of Mbube) over the past 3-4 years, as well as obtaining copies. I'm around halfway there, with more than 80 collected so far. I did notice a slight error in the article (Part 1), whereas it lists various Artists renditions. Just so it's understood, "the Spinners" is not the popular R&B group from the US (as their listing might suggest to most readers), but actually a Folk quartet from the UK. To my knowledge, the formerly mentioned Spinners never recorded the song. Another significant version, which utilized (more) significant lyrics other than the repetitive "wimoweh, wimoweh", was done prior to the Tokens' version. It was titled "Eh Wimoweh", and was performed by The Randy Sparks Three in 1960. It even featured a lion's growl in the beginning intro.
    I enjoyed the article immensely when it first appeared in Rolling Stone in May of 2000. I never would have thought so much information could be found on the song, and the depths of research that went into it's background. Is there any possible way of contacting Mr. Malan personally, via email? I'd like to compare notes on credits for the song, who performed it, who got credit on each for writing it, etc.
    Thanks for putting the article on-line for those who missed it the first time around.
    Fred Clemens
  9. Photo Bushman Chased by Lion – Rock Paining – American Museum of Natural History 1940Diana Stiles Friou comments:
    I heard (on Public Radio), a year or so ago, that a CD was released with a collection of the original works of Solomon Linda, including Mbube. I have not been able to find it though I would like to buy it. Can you help me locate this collection? Thanks Diana

    Editors note:
    There a wonderful collection of SAfrican Music - with the original 1938 recording of Mbube by Solomon Linda's Evening Birds - & other great musicians through the years. It is available from GALLO ARCHIVE - Title: Made in Africa - Africa's Greatest Music Souvenir  No: CDBG (WLM) 101.

  10. Matthew Kuperus Heun comments:
    Folks: I read Rian Malan's article on Solomon Linda and "Mbube" with much interest.  I have an interest in actually hearing the oldest versions of this song.  Can you point me (and other readers) to CDs or other recordings where we could hear them?  Of particular interest, of course, is the original.
    Cheers, Matt

  11. Mbube Label Thanks to Nigel Wallbridge, USANigel Wallbridge writes:
    Dave, as I have now retrieved the 78 of Mbube from the recording studio I thought you might be interested in scans of the labels.  I had some difficulty getting the contrast right.  If you zoom in on the text you want you can read everything I think.  If you have any difficulty please let me know.
    I have not yet received the CD versions of Mbube like the one you describe so I am still working on which take I have. The 'noise-reduced' versions are great to listen to, especially the B-side Ngi Hambiki, which sounds great and which I don't think is available on any CD. Thanks. Nigel USA

  12. Ron Blake comments:
    Could you tell me if there was every a recording of the Lion sleeps tonight by a man named Frankie Valens?  He says he recorded this song.  He is not to be confused with a Richtie Valens.  Have you ever heard of Frankie Valens? Thanks Ron USA

  13. Rose Anderson comments:
    Also covered as a remake of 'Wimoweh' with the Weavers by Nancy Griffith on her album "Other Voices, Other Rooms" in 1993, which is a folk music homage album.  Very good cover

    Editors note:
    Thank you for that. Since we've asked people for their lists, the covers keep growing. The partial good news is that Solomon's family may finally get some of the (approx) $16 Million owed. There's a story in this weeks Sunday Tribune (kZN Business Report) - his granddaughter (Phumzile Ntsele) & family may stand to benefit.

  14. Greta Schiller comments:
    Is it true George Weiss has recently paid Solomon Linda's family royalties? Can you tell me where you got this information? Thanks

    David says:
    Not that I know of. Some payments are being made, but from what we can gather this is guilt money in retrospect that comes from the various publishers' & not from any of the many (so called) composers / plagiarists who claimed that it was their song / tune. The Sunday Tribune (27th Oct 2002) carried the story in their Business Report. Rian Malan’s efforts in trying to get legal assistance to assist the Ntsele family (Solomon’s daughters) was getting bogged down by legalities, admin diversions, denials and the usual money monster run-a-around.

    Rian replies (edited):
    We opted instead to take up Gallo's offer of heavyweight legal assistance that would enable us to take on the Americans who have made almost all the money off Mbube and its progeny. It was the only way. The files are so voluminous that we'd have had to pay a lawyer (hundreds of thousands) just to read them, and without access to Gallo's papers, s/he would have got nowhere anyway. The luta seems to continue. I've bowed out now, because my presence on the Zulu side was deeply irksome to the Americans. Our best -- only -- hope is a negotiated settlement, conducted behind closed doors by dispassionate lawyers

  15. Pete Seeger - Backstage, Newport Folk 1969 – by David MarksHayley comments:
    I read this article with great interest. I was hoping that people could give me instances of other popular songs that have been plagiarized. Is this a common occurrence in the music industry?

    Editors note:
    It’s only common in the record industry. The music industry doesn’t need to feed off the same bones, rules & regulations that govern the record (and music publishing)industries.

  16. Joan Moore comments:
    Wow, there is so much information about this song, I have one question and it may be in your story (very comprehensive, wow! excellent!), but I’m helping put together a school play about animals misbehaving on a school bus- transferring it to video so school kids can be safer around their school buses, and there happens to be a lion sleeping on the school bus at the end (a total coincidence- kids fall asleep on the bus all the time and wake up quite frightened, so when we realised the song FIT, we were totally amazed). I was wondering what is involved in getting permission or rights to use a small part of such a fantastic song, maybe the version recorded by the Tokens? This article is so comprehensive; the answer just may be in here somewhere. Just in case it's not by the time I'm finished researching, I thought I would ask you. This really seems like a long shot to me and wouldn't kill us to make other plans, like snoring noises, growling, even meowing and purring, etc. instead of the song, but I think I should ask around a little anyway.

    David replies:
    It would not be a problem using the song for a school event - (Personally I do not think it would) - although 3rd Ear Music are not the rights holders. (Solomon Linda was owed $16 Million at last count - so a few tunes in a school play would be no big deal.)
     However, if this is a paying event - and not just a school fund-raiser - and just because the Jazz Police do the rounds sometimes - it would be good for whoever puts the show on (the school, the promoter, the agents etc) to fill in all the necessary copyright / broadcast / public performance forms with the names of all tunes used, the composers etc.
    If all the copyright details are correct, then the few cents due to the composer should be covered by the public broadcast license that most venues & schools pay annually anyway. That's the theory. In practice - by the time these small amounts filter down to the (poor) composers, there's nothing but administration & legal expenses left over. But I suppose it's the thought that counts.

    Dear Joan - If the song fits – wear it! Don’t say I said so - use it! Sounds like a wonderful idea & I'm sure that Solomon would approve. He wrote the song to be sung. (However, like it or not, there are the copyright / legal aspects of usage and licensing that must be dealt with. It would most probably not cost you anything but time.)
    Have you ever seen Pedro 'The Music Man's' website? There's a link to it on the 3eM website Links page. He teaches European / Western children (all over the world) to use African means of making magic & music - sticks, leaves, pumpkin stems, bottles, cans etc. Check it out. His exploits are legendary. And no copyright restraints stop him teaching children African songs. Regards

    Joan Moore replies:
    Thanks a million! I read all the parts and we were so saddened by the whole thing that we are seriously thinking about just going to sound effects, I don’t want those particular legal and business vultures to see a dime of our money or the time it takes to fill anything out for their benefit and amusement, no matter how little it is.
     At the moment the whole thing is non-profit, it's not even a fund raiser, its a teaching tool, (hopefully) eventually for every k-3 child in the U.S.A.  But like Solomon Linda's brutal awakening way back then, you never really know what's going to develop from it... What if the play and video of it becomes a huge hit?  When it comes right down to it, it seems like the more ORIGINAL the play can be, the better off it will be, and the easier and quicker it should be to get it distributed to all the school districts (again, knock on wood).
     By the way, I certainly didn’t see anything written harshly about Pete Seeger in that article, I don't know what Robert Tomashevs was talking about, I guess I have to read part 1 again, but from what I got out of it, Pete Seeger was the main man who truly cared.
     I'll continue to research the articles you pointed me to. Thanks again, this is AWESOME!
     Sincerely, Joan, Wally, and Angie Moore

  17. Dick Usher comments:
    I have an original 78 rpm recording of Wimoweh by the Weavers in fair condition. Any offers? Also, South African music, also have available "Zulu Warrior / Henriettas Wedding", "Riksha Boy", both by Josie Ferreira. Any offers?

  18. Mikael comments:
    Hey...There has just been a story on Danish TV (Dags Dato, TV2 Danmark), about the song Mbube / Wimoweh. They talked about Solomon’s song, and how a Danish musician had used Mbube in Danish. My point is that number 174 (on the cover’s list) must be the Danish version "Wimmersvej" written by Flemming "Bamse" Jørgensen. I hope you could use my knowledge to help Solomon Linda’s family to get the copyright for the song; or just get an overview of what was used of the Mbube melody? Mikael.

  19. Soweto Festival Jabulani 1976 - David MarksGeorge Csicsery comments:
    Rian Malan, as always, is a master storyteller.  This tale reminds us how little creativity there is to go around, and how precious it is when someone makes something genuine and new.

  20. Fred Clemens comments:
    This song has been a passion of mine for the last 5-6 years. Bob Shannon had done his initial story on the song in his book (co-written by John Javna), BEHIND THE HITS, published in 1986. He's brought the story since to the Internet, complete with an update. Also included is a listing I have compiled (see link at the bottom of the page):
    Since last publication, my list has grown dramatically and will be updated in the near future. Any questions regarding that list, email me personally, and I will answer as best I can. It is our goal to have the most complete listing of the song anywhere. All titles in bold print can be absolutely verified, as I have actual copies as they are listed, in the format shown. Presently, I have over 120 different versions (of close to 200 versions), most in their original released format.
    Also included is a listing I have compiled >>

  21. Holly Cate comments:
    I have just finished Mr. Malan's tremendous book, My Traitor's Heart.  I am an actor and director in New York City and am very interested in contacting Mr. Malan to discuss a theatre project I am creating.  If you could provide any guidance in how to reach Mr. Malan, it would be much appreciated.

  22. Jay Rutledge comments:
    I'm a German journalist specialized in African music; just been to (see) a South African a friend of mine who gave me a copy of the article here reprinted in a German Arts magazine Lettre. All I can say is thank you for this extremely well researched piece ... it made me dig out the copy of the original I have (Veit erlmanns rounder Release Mbube Roots) and I played the song on the radio (BR German public radio) tonight with a link to your article on the net. I especially like the ending of the article which gives back some responsibility to the artist (family) and avoids the typical black and white stereotypes often involved when talking about African music. Thanks so much & keep it up.
    Greetings – Jay

    Editors note:
    Jay - Thanks for that. But the thanks must go to Rian for writing such a great piece. I'll cc him this one as well. Please send my best wishes to Veit. If you have an eMail for him I'd really appreciate that. Below is a note to Klaus Schiesewitz from Rian re the Danish version – The world does work in interesting ways. David
    26 Henry comments - Interesting information about this song. I didn't realize there were so many covers. Other versions - Artist: Midnight Voices
    Album: South African Legends - 04 - Artist: Mahotella Queens – Mbube

  23. A. Yapa, Canada comments:
    I've just viewed a TV program on CBC TV's 'Passionate Eye' on Rian Malan's attempts to try moral suasion to convince George Weiss and his ilk to part with at least a bit of the mega-profits that have accrued from 'Mbube' to them in order to help Solomon Linda’s impoverished daughters. I was appalled by the legal prevarications that the American profiteers have resorted to in order to confound Malan in his quest for justice. This story represents another summit in white society's rapine of black music for profit. It is sickening. Mr. Weiss should be actively trying to help the composer's family. Please have a conscience.

    Editors note:
    Conscience? In the commercial record industry? It’s always good to have faith!

  24. Geugie from Holland comments:
    I heard the South African record company  involved already tried to 'fix' this underground problem by paying Linda's daughters. Did this actually happen?

    Thank you we appreciate the feedback. We will ask Rian if he doesn't mind a small follow-up - just to let people know what has happened. Yes Gallo did part with some guilt money, but we do not know all the details. What we do know is that the song earned around 16 Million dollars and Solomon or his family got approx R100 000 (about Ten Thousand Dollars) over 30 years. Also check out the story of of Manhattan Brothers - Mantindane 68 years >>

    Editors note:
    Since so many of these letters wanted to know what was happening with the missing $ millions, I spoke with Ivor Haarburger (Gallo – July 2003). He has been setting up legal and admin structures through Gallo to get as much of those royalties back to the family as possible. Will keep you informed.

  25. Van Lommel from Belgium comments:
    I'm not in the music business and I'm afraid I don't have any information for you at all but I saw a TV-documentary tonight about Solomon Linda and I was so angry I wanted to find out more about the case. Your website was the first one I visited and I just wanted to react.

  26. Jon from Holland comments:
    Hi there (Rian Malan), my mother and I (in the Netherlands) watched the story of Solomon Linda and your work. I’m truly impressed with what you have done and wish you more success in your efforts. I’m not surprised at the typical America behaviour of George Weiss but am appauled that he cannot admit defeat with all your proof! Sue his ass! Good luck and god bless – Jon

    Editors note:
    Thank you Jon - much appreciate the feedback. Check out the story of the Manhattan Brothers - Mantindane 68 years >>
    There's another documentary for the BBC.

  27. Pete Seeger – Backstage Portrait Newport 1969 – by David MarksAbou Dabre comments:
    Sir, Could you please help me get a CD of Solomon Linda? I saw a documentary of him and will really like a CD. I have searched the net but could not find any. Thanks in Advance. A. Dabre

    Will cc this request to Gallo. There are a number of versions. If you look at Manhattan Brothers - Mantindane 68 years and then link to Lars Rasmussen, he has a great version by the Manhattan Brothers, with this book

  28. Fay Roberts comments:
    Amazing - I went online to see if I could find out more about this "song by The Tokens" that we were improvising in a concert. I was told it was an African folksong. So I went further, seeing if I could get the original title in order to fool the audience into a false sense of security - they wouldn't know they were going to be hearing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". And I find all this terrifying.
    Incidentally, I don't think that Malan was half as harsh with Seeger as he was with Weiss et al. And may I just congratulate him on his perseverance (or commiserate his obsession) - that's a lot of traveling!

    Editors note:
    Thanks for the feedback. I'll pass this onto Rian. There are quite a few similar song stories going up on the site (...see also The Manhattan Brothers - Mantindane 68 years >>). It would be good to know more about the people who sing these songs - the main bottom line for any songwriter is to know that their music is being sung around the world. We have the same philosophy as Pete Seeger in this regard - and John Perry Barlow - about copyright in the new digital age.

  29. John Houston comments:
    A great article on a great man who lived an ungreatly end... Can you tell me where I can get a copy of the original version that was sung by Solomon? Regards John H

    Editors note:
    Available at most international music stores - I should think; perhaps one of the best would be on the EMI compilation - Africa's Greatest Music Souvenir (CDBG / WLM 101). But I'll cc this to the man who found the masters and had them cleaned up - Gallo Africa Archivist, Rob Allingham. Tel +(27) (11) 340-9600. Regards David
    Solomon Linda and his Evening Birds 1941
    Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds 1941
    Click image to enlarge
  30. Laurence Paix, Journalist from le Monde (France) comments:
    Thanks - I can get the picture of Solomon Linda in High resolution? It is urgent for tomorrow morning Best regards Laurence Paix

    Herewith the famous (and only known?) photo of Solomon Linda and his Evening Birds 1941. Left to Right: Solomon (Soprano), Gilbert Madondo (Alto), Boy Sibiya (Tenor), Samuel Mlangeni (Bass) and Owen Skakane (Bass). This photo courtesy of The International Library of African Music (Rhodes University) and Veit Erlmann. Regards David

  31. Kwaku comments:
    Hi, I've spent ages reading your gripping essay on Solomon's song. However, I was struck by the line: "Within a month, Karl Denver's cover was Number One in England, too." So I - Karl Denver's version made No. 4, in what's now regarded as the 'Official UK charts'. Regards, Kwaku

  32. Rolanda & friends from Australia comments:
    My first and only thought is outrage and disgust at these 'white' men who have not just profited nicely, but received obscene amounts of money for what was never theirs to lay claim to. How can the deals be 'perfectly legal, drawn up by respectable men'? If Linda was not aware they were taking his creation and any future profits he may be entitled to? How can they sit at a hearing squabbling over the ownership and the monies, when they know his family continues to live in poverty? That is beyond outrageous. Worse - why does this continue?
    Linda's 1939 session recording is proof of his original work; his family should get a substantial amount to help their community. They ARE entitled, but more importantly - where has the money gone? Where are the bank deposit statements that show there was money from 1961? Why does no one have to answer this question? Pete Seeger has not been portrayed in this article in a negative light. He is the only one to have shown moral conscience. These men however and any others associated with such obvious and outright plagiarism must find it hard to sleep at night. They have their own conscience to deal with for now. It will be lovely to see their smugness when all this does become a media circus, as I’m sure it will.
    Howie Richmond
    Al Brackman
    Luigi Creatore

    – Hi - I just would like to add i write to you from Melbourne Australia. When i
    read the article I passed it around to a few friends who are of the same
    age group 30-35. Good luck with all your work - Rolanda

  33. Dr Martin Schaefer, Basel, Switzerland comments:
    Dear Friends, I don't have the time to go through your whole list, but do you have knowledge of French-Caribbean singer Henri Salvador's ca. 1961 hit version "Le Lion est mort ce soir"? Nominally a French cover version of the Tokens' US hit, but I think Salvador, being black and born in Guyana, just might have had knowledge of its South African origins. Released by Philips, I think. Kind regards & keep up the good work Dr Martin Schaefer Switzerland

  34. Juergen from Holland comments
    In a night of the summer of 1958 on the beach of the Netherlands several young individuals gathered by chance around a fire. A man began to sing "the lion sleeps tonight", then he engaged everybody to sing the refrain and another melody, played guitar and sang a wonderful, improvised melody to it. He explained "Way up Wimmoweh" as: "Keep away, the tree is falling" a shout of woodcutters. Do you know who he was? Kind regards, Juergen

  35. Melissa Roy comments:
    Rian, I am an old friend of yours from Los Angeles (early 80s), living in London for the past 18 years, and for the last five of those dealing almost exclusively with clearance and copyright matters.  Although I know the WIPO is aware of the dispute, it does not seem to appreciate (from the notes of its October '02 meeting) that Mbube should not be classified as a "traditional" or "folk" song since it was copyrighted at the time of the original record's first distribution or broadcast in South Africa. The fact that South Africa was not a signatory to any international copyright agreements at the time is moot - the original melody is definitely not in the public domain. I do this for a living but can always make time to give a hand on important matters such as this (of course for no fee!) so if your lawyer friend feels that he could use my assistance please have him contact me on the above address. With best wishes Melissa Roy (nee Bonahan)

  36. Thomas Hendricks comments:
    What has become of his (Solomon’s) daughters? Is there still some kind of lawsuit or something going on? Thank you and please do continue writing about important music issues such as this one. Most music related websites deal only with the bubblegum popstars.

  37. --- comments:
    I saw a programme on BBC about Solomon's Mbube and the fact that his family has received no loyalties.  I have searched for an online petition but haven't found one.  Can we set up one?  I know loads and loads of people who would sign it and pass it on to loads and loads themselves!

  38. Elin Whitney-Smith, UK comment:
    Great work!! Will any of Linda's children/grandchildren get anything from the BBC TV documentary?

    Editors note:
    Thank you for that feedback. Yes. Every cover of Mbube that has been re-recorded since Rian made the investigations will be paid to the Ntsele family. It's still a bit of an absurd compromise...the song has earned over $16 million... But guessing what rights a song like that can accrue; I'd say that the ladies would be getting a few million Rand over the years. But thanks for your interest and concern. Regards David

  39. Colleen Fernald comments:
    Hi, I am an old friend of Rian Malan's from California and would like to contact him. Please forward my address to him please. Thank you, Colleen
    Ladysmith Black Mambazo today – in the studio with 14 Shabalala & David Marks
    Ladysmith Black Mambazo today – in the studio with 14 Shabalala & David Marks
  40. Keith Parker, San Rafael CA comments:
    From your page:
    It has logged nearly three centuries of continuous radio air play in the U.S. alone - Uh..I didn't know we had radio here in the US three hundred years ago! Perhaps you meant, "DECADES" instead of "CENTURIES"?? <grin>
    There was a story on National Public Radio about this song and it inspired me to do some research on the web. That's how I came across your website. Really great history of the song! By the way, my roommate is from South Africa; I've emailed him the link to this site. Cheers, Keith Parker San Rafael CA July 4, 2003

    Editors note:
    As songwriters with vivid poetic (?) imaginations we would believe that Rian meant just that - 3 centuries worth of airtime is about what the song has got. But we'll let him know anyway. Regards David

  41. Larry Gifford comments:
    This was a fascinating story to read, well researched and well written. I heard Solomon Linda's original recording some years ago on CBC radio. It is wonderful. I emailed asking them where I could find the CD, but they didn't reply. I haven't heard it since but would sure love to acquire it.

    (Ed- Please see record details on this letter’s page)

  42. Phillip Boyle comments:
    I've just watched a documentary on Solomon Linda. I never knew who wrote the music to this song that I grew up with in the 1960s. I feel for his family denied the royalties of his famous song. Is there a recording available of Solomon Linda singing Mbube and other songs?

  43. Allister from Oz comments:
    Just read your article and I am very angry. If there were a CD available or an address I'd send a cheque off today. Being an artist myself, and dealing with South Africa often (fine arts not music alas) I know the exchange rate would be fantastic in their favour. What a pity that his family must live in struggle. Your article was well balanced too and with an understanding perspective...that's rare.

  44. Max Beckerling comments:
    I've just seen the documentary about Solomon Linda and his song on the TV. What's going on in the legal front, what is being done? I'm a solicitor, I'm irate and I've got time to devote to whatever needs doing to sorting this shit out. Please mail me.

    Dear Max - Thanks for offering; that's big of you. Not too sure how to handle this, but I'll contact Rian and see if there is something you could help him / or the Ntsele sisters with. At the moment it seems as if the referees are not only playing the game but they also made the rules. See the enclosed note - to some of my students - that sort of relates. Will get back to you. Regards David

    Editors note:
    Solomon's daughters - Elizabeth, Fidah and Delphi Ntsele - have started earning royalties from Mbube. Nothing near the missing $16 Million...but Joseph (Shabalala) assures me that Ivor (Haarburger) and the Gallo attorneys have set up this trust to collect all the mechanicals and copyright for all the covers done since the revelations began some 2 / 3 years ago. And given the movie soundtracks, the Broadway (and other show) productions and the many new versions recorded recently - LBM included - it could amount to a few million dollars...So there you go! However, the sort of piracy and the illegal sale of copies for profit that we discussed, still applies.

  45. Laurence Bibby, Australia comments:
    all I can shame ,shame, shame on George Weiss and co for the huge injustice done to Mr. Solomon Linda. 

    Editors note:
    Below please see one view, of two – out of over 500 eMail letters – that has a different take on George David Weiss. Although, as a songwriter myself, I have heard this opinion myself. But why then doesn’t Mr. Weiss take a more active role either to defend himself or to understand that an injustice was committed – against a fellow songwriter? I think that’s what puzzles most of us.

  46. Terry McManus (Canada) comments:
    The music publisher is responsible for clearing copyrights and making payments, not the writer(s). George David Weiss is a brilliant lyricist and a decent man who has fought for the rights of songwriters for years. For the author, if I can call him that, to describe Weiss' homes as if it was all made on the back of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is a cheap shot worthy of the tabloid writers. In fact George David Weiss up until the arbitration hearings in the 90's received 1/3 of the writer's share for his lyrics. And it was those lyrics that took an obscure folk song and brought it to the attention of the world. Does the family of the composer deserve payment? Yes, but the fight for compensation has taken the low road by attacking the reputation of one of the great lyricists of the 20th century.

  47. Cliff Ferguson, Mandurah, Western Australia comments:
    Australia may be several years behind on this one so the story The Lion Sleeps Tonight was only aired on TV last week. I don't know as yet whether any justice has been had by Mr. Linda's family, however I am sure there is an easy solution to the problem if it is still going. All that is required is a website with a bank account in the family's name attached so that people like myself who have loved this song all of our lives can make a deposit. I am sure there would be such immense goodwill around the world that money will come flooding in. I have no idea how to contact Mr. Malan so if you could pass this suggestion on I would be pleased. Cliff Ferguson Mandurah Western Australia

  48. Heather Maxwell comments :
    I love this series of articles! Thanks so much

  49. G. Parmeter comments:
    I recently watched the documentary "The lion sleeps tonight, the story of a song and the lamentable story of Solomon Linda's song. While being captivated by all the musical accompaniments shown I was particularly uplifted by the sound of the lone guitarist playing in a field. I think his name is Ellias Nkhwanazi and I think the credits refer to a traveling song. If you have any further information on this performer I'd be grateful. Thanks

  50. Fred Clemens comments:
    A couple of notes of clarification. Regarding the "Davy Graham" entry (#13), and the "Thame Side Four / Davey Graham" entry (#25), both are incorrect. First of all, Graham was not a member of the Thamesiders (correct group name), and they were a trio, not a quartet. Davey Graham appeared along with the Thamesiders at a hootenanny in 1963, but he did not sing with them as a group. The Thamesiders were: Marion Grey (g), Martin Carthy (g), and Pete Maynard (b), that according to a UK issued Decca EP where they had their version of "Wimoweh" and one other song on one side, and Graham having 2 songs on the other.
    Also, entry #130 (Mayf Nutter); I have that LP and the song is not one of the tracks listed. All-Music (your reference) incorrectly lists all the wrong tracks for the LP, I don't know where those tracks are from, but they're not on my vinyl copy of the Nutter LP. Also, #137, Jimmy Dorsey Live at the Edgewater is not a re-release as you state. The tracks were recorded in 1952 but never before released until 1998.
    For the most complete listing of Lion songs, check this site out >>
    As noted, bold print versions are from the actual releases that I have acquired.

  51. PVC comments:
    Spectacular bit of work and fascinating. Is this the same George Weiss formerly of OLD TOWN records?

  52. Rauski from Finland comments
    I saw a film about the subject on Finnish TV yesterday, sad story. The good thing is that now we know the truth and the lion sleeps in our minds tonight

  53. Ricardo from Brazil comments - não entendo inglês muito bem portanto traduzirei o artigo mais tarde e me manifesterei sobre o assunto depois. ahahaha
    alguém aí entendeu?

  54. Guy Parsons, Australia comments:
    A great piece of journalism about even greater research and ultimately, the greatest level of humanitarian care, about a great piece of music of which nothing more really needs be said. The integrity of the article stands out and the jury gives a unanimous guilty verdict on all the charges that have never been laid.
    This song first became an indelible part of my life as an early teenager (Tokens) and I was very interested to later get the Weavers version; it's similarly been imbued in my children's lives separately from school repertoire and The Lion King.
    The consistency with which due reward and due recognition were cynically kept from the originator smacks so truly, and so sadly of what we learn of human nature as we age. Thanks be that there are always a few people like (Pete) Seeger with a conscience and who are prepared to stand alone to make such efforts to piss into an ill-wind - considering at the time his peers would undoubtedly have seen any such sense of "fairness" as bizarre.... What, the lawyers and accountants (Pete's too?) and plagiarists (yes) must have said, would this fellow possibly do with all the money from what WE have earned; it will destroy him and his family. hmmmm.
    I've certainly been moved by this piece. I'll dig out my Tokens (hey, an Aussie band did something huge here with a straight copy of the Tokens in the '70s ... maybe even America didn't get royalties from that!)  (On reflection, I would sincerely hope they didn't, considering the grim possibility of any cheque going to Soweto) and listen anew to what must now be an anthem to the law of the jungle.

    His Master’s Voice African Jive Series
    His Master’s Voice African Jive Series
  55. Fernando Fennandez from the South of Spain comments :
    Hello! Kind regards from southern Spain. I had heard, liked and enjoyed this song for decades, without having an idea of who wrote or sung it. Throughout the years I have been able to fill in most of the gaps of my knowledge about the pop songs that have been important in my life. Records, books, friends, lately the Internet has helped. Only a few remain unknown, and this one was one of them.
    In some of the cases I never got the first piece of data to start searching with; in other ones I couldn't recall the tune properly. In others I just have not had the time or the occasion. Although the one we are talking about seems to be a very popular tune all over the world, it is no so in Spain. Of course you hear it every now and then, but no Spanish singer or band has covered it and I've never met anyone who could tell me the right title or the singers' names.
    Until this very night. I was working on my iMac when the radio started to play "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"; I picked these words from the tune, and decided to try them into a Yahoo! Web search page. This is how I came up to your site, and learned about this thrilling story by Mr. Malan.
    I am so shocked and touched by what I have just read that I have decided to fight against my bad English and put this feeling across. Thank you for this moment, and for what you have made me feel. I never expected this when I clicked the "Search" button.
    Please excuse my poor English. Convey my respect and admiration to Mr. Malan for his talent as a writer, and for his apparently non-profit hard work in favour of Solomon Linda's right to be, at the least, known and credited for being the father to such a remarkable song.
    Now I will save this pages into my hard drive, and take some time to look around in your site. Yours Fernando

  56. Caroline Kamdoum comments (Letter shortened):
    I have just seen the video A Lion’s Trail this morning at TV and I was so shocked by the story that I went on the web to find more details about it. That's how I found this article. I’m completely turned by the story. For me, Solomon Linda' daughters have nothing to seek or to beg for. They should depend on Weiss or anyone else generosity, It's their right, and nothing but their right to have the money from the song. The law is one thing reality is another. Law is made to protect people, not to wash down reality. Caroline Kamdoum

  57. A. Sephen Andreopoulos from Greece comments:
    This is a great article.  I had begun singing the song to my kids and wanted to find out more about this haunting melody. Thanks

  58. Les Menzes comments
    I have recently viewed a documentary (Lion’s Trail) and am outraged. Is there anything that we can do to correct this wrong?

    Editors Generic Note:
    26 August 2003 07:10 - Spoke with one of the Gallo directors - a sort of website interview to find out what's happening with Solomon's family (daughters) and the missing millions. Ivor Haarburger - director of Gallo Africa & a good music man that we have known for over 3 years, was very open and helpful and referred me to the specialist copyright attorney (Dr. Dean Owen) who has been assigned to what he claims is an extremely complex international copyright case. Point is they are working on it - for what that's worth. And we hope to have a happy ending - or perhaps a sequel? - on the website soon.

  59. Micaela Mcvary comments
    Are their any examples of ethnomusicologists giving the original creator of a song the rights they deserve. (In the global pop area)??? Thanks. Micaela

    Good question - if I understand it correctly? There's also no easy answers - so please allow me to shoot from the lip & try & get to some sort of a resolve.
    Personally, I think it would depend on the time. E.G.: If it were ethnomusicologists such as Alan Lomax in the American 30's or Doc Hugh Tracey (who was the first to record Mbube) in the African 30’s & 40's, copyright didn't really come into it. These musicologists were very different to their desk-bound academic brothers & sisters – then & now. They were way out there in the field, far beyond their time, fulfilling their passion - documenting indigenous music & all that surrounded it. Without them where would we be today?
    It was a different scene to what the un-official musicologists / ambassadors face today - Ry Cooder, Paul Simon etc - but no less important or a personal trauma when they are accused of stealing or plagiarizing; all they are really doing is spreading the word of music we would never normally hear. Most of the musicians discovered in this way - post 60's - were rewarded in other ways, anyway.
    (See the paper John Perry Barlow - The Economy of Ideas – he of the Ex-Grateful Dead.)

    Ladysmith Black Mambazo 1968
    Sleeve of Rounder Records & Veit Erlmann’s Mbube Roots
    Whatever happened to the music & the musicians once the older ethnos' had loved & left the scene? Having enjoyed the safari, recorded the music & made the notes, it would have all been beyond their ken & scope. It certainly did bother them that others were cashing in & making claims they didn't deserve; but what could they do 20 or 30 years later?
    It was while I was at Doc Tracey’s International Library of African Music in the late 60's that the issue of copyright started becoming a concern to me; I tried to make it a concern of the good Doctor's as well. He was certainly more aware of it in the 60's than he was when he was doing his field work back in the 30’s and 40’s with Peggy. But it wasn’t a concern that would have stopped his passion, as it may do today. It was another discipline.
    Meanwhile Doc’s sons, Andrew & Paul were spreading the magic of the African music he collected to the world. Their revue - Wait a Minum – was the longest running off-Broadway & West End revue in history; but copyright was a new (unknown) phenomena. (Listen what happened in the 1950's to the US race & rock music scene?)
    My interest in all this stemmed from a couple of songs that I wrote & that found their way onto the charts in the US. It was only when I noticed that the suits who signed me were making a reasonable fortune off a tune that cost me nothing to write, that I too started getting side-tracked & distracted. Greedy? Like other troubadours & musicians throughout the ages, I was quite happy to have other people sing my songs. While I was at work, underground, I could hear my tunes on the radio & boast about it to the other gold miners & rugby players. It got me a lifetime of music work above ground & a ticket to the USA. Besides, like all young boys I loved being the centre of attraction. It helped me get the girl.
    But as time wore on & one of the songs got to number one on a few charts around the world - getting translated into many different languages - the questions of (the supposed) missing millions was bandied about in the media. I started getting more possessive about my stupid tunes and those that the Doc had dedicated his life collecting & recording; because he and the creators were struggling to survive while Gallo Africa were building sky scrapers, dodging the international cultural embargo & claiming rights we never knew existed.
    That's why 3rd Ear Music was formed in 1969. We smelt a copyright race rat.
    It is so unfortunate that Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax, Doc Hugh Tracey & even 3rd Ear Music, are sometimes lumped together with these strange material scams. It's also an easy way out, in hindsight, for researchers, the capitalists, the sentimentalists & the sensationalists within the current turbulent mainstream music & record industry. It was us who brought the music into the public arena & the fact that we had no idea of the legal / financial implications makes no difference; the suckers can be trashed to absolve the commercial record industry.

    Stories such as Rian's - and there are a few more coming to the site - will certainly do more to see that justice & fairness prevails-however relative that may be - than those corporate bored-room denials after the fact; they can afford to trot out a stream of well-paid attorney's to dish out the dirt or the guilt money & small change, while the current crop of pious ethno music researchers scratch the surface & retro diggers cover our real roots & true traditions.
    Problem is, it's too late for Solomon Linda, Alan Lomax, Pete Seeger & Doc Tracey.
    Sorry about the lengthy lecture, but you hit a passion button of mine, and I'm no 500 word scribe. I'm still only a musician on a mission. Regards. David.

    MBUBE ROOTS - Zulu Choral Music from South Africa - Rounder Records 1987.
    Veit Erlmann

    1. Jinin Takato Konjoni - Bantu Glee Singers HMV GU 137) 112 November 19321
    2. Hewu! Kwaqaqamba Amothambo Crocodiles (field recording byV Erlmann [November 1985]
    3. Ina Ma Wala Fear No Harm Choir (Smger GE 120) (c 19341
    4. Kuyekeleni Kukule African Zulu Mole Voice Choir (Columbia AE 86) [c 19351
    5. Mbube Solomon Linda's Original Evening Birds (Gallo GB 829) [c 19391
    6. Ngazula Emagumeni Solomon Lindo and Evening Birds (Gallo GB 1050A) [c 1943]
    7. Al Gonda Solomon Linda and Evening Birds (ILAM 631 S) [c 1940]
    8. Yek' Ennaralaini Shooting Stars (HMV JP 23) [c 1947]
    9. Izindalba Ezinkulu Zika "Kawa" Morning Light Choir (Trek DC 59) [C, 39471
    10. Hamba Stutubaker Dundee Wandering Singers (Singer GE 990) [c. 19501
    11. Ngie Kaya Natal Champions (ILAM 584S) [c 1945]
    12. Asigoduke Crocodiles (SABC Transcription Service IT 10 157, A3) [19691
    13. Akasongibholeli Durban Crocodiles (SABC Transcription Service LT 10 034, B 4) [c 19691
    14. Cothozo Mfona Scorpions (SABC Transcription Service IT 6765, A 4) [1966]
    15. Mus'Ukuqubudo King Stor Brothers (SABC Transcription Service LT 9477, A 4) [1968]
    Umama Lo Ladysmith Mambazo (SABC Transcription Service LT 14 351,15) [1967]

...read more on Mbube >>
also read:
Mickey, Goofy & Donald Duck Under House Arrest in SAfrica – by David Marks
Mbube - Letters, Links & Feedback - Part II >>

If you have any comments about this article, please drop us a line.

back to top
This Web Site is designed and maintained by Art Arena