In 1939, Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds recorded "Mbube" (Zulu for lion) on the Gallo Records label in South Africa. The song became a hit, selling over 100,000 copies in Africa and the U.K. Ten years later, Alan Lomax gave a copy of the record to Pete Seeger, who misheard the title lyric as "Wimoweh." Seeger and the Weavers arranged and recorded the song, adding their group copyright under the pseudonym "Paul Campbell." Seeger would later claim that he had mistakenly believed it to be a traditional melody in the public domain, and the copyright was only intended to apply to his arrangement. Seeger eventually assigned his royalties to Linda, but that did not end the copyright dispute, as Linda's estate later sued the Disney company over its use of the song -- as the Americanized "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in The Lion King. The lawsuit was settled with payments to Linda's estate. In addition to the Weavers' version, the song has been covered many times, sometimes as "Mbube," sometimes as "Wimoweh," and often as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds: