• Business

It’s a Lawsuit, a Mighty Lawsuit

1 minute read
Simon Robinson/Johannesburg

It is one of the most naggingly catchy tunes in pop music–and, it turns out, one of the most controversial. The Lion Sleeps Tonight, featured in Disney blockbuster The Lion King, is based on the 1939 song Mbube, written by South African musician Solomon Linda. But Linda, a cleaner at a Johannesburg record company when he wrote the song, received virtually nothing for his work and died in 1962 with $25 in his bank account. His family is suing Disney for $1.5 million. Disney says it will fight the suit, but it’s already paying off. Though not named in the suit, U.S. music-publishing house TRO/Folkways last month admitted it had not been paying royalties on a version of the song, and promises to give some $3,000 a year to the Linda family and to finance a memorial to the unsung songwriter. –By Simon Robinson/Johannesburg

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