The story of how Disney made millions from poor Zulu artist's song

The story of how Disney made millions from poor Zulu artist's song

- In 2000, a journalist revealed the story of Solomon Linda – a local man who composed the song called Mbube, or The Lion

- The song eventually transformed into the hit, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which generated revenue estimated to be $16m, yet Linda died penniless

- Following an eye-opening documentary, Linda’s 3 surviving daughters sued Disney and eventually received substantial compensation

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When most people think of the Disney animated classic, The Lion King, two things often come to mind – the circle of life and the hit song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

The original composer of the song was a Zulu man who died penniless, even though the song eventually generated millions of dollars in revenue.

In 2000, Rolling Stone magazine published the story of Solomon Linda, who recorded the original version of the song with his band, The Evening Birds.

The song was called Mbube, or The Lion, but an American band, The Tokens, added some lyrics and it was eventually dubbed, The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

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Sadly, Linda passed away in 1962 without a tombstone due to the poverty he and his family experienced.

It’s been estimated that the song generated approximately $16 million for local and American record companies, as well as Disney.

In 2002, a documentary was produced by local filmmaker, Francois Verster, and the reporter who initially broke the story, Rian Malan.

The doccie shed light on the plight of Linda and his family and seemingly sparked local authorities to seek justice.

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TimesLIVE reported on a new Netflix documentary called, ReMastered: The Lion's Share, which retells the story, but provides an update on the legal action taken.

The doccie reveals how local lawyers pulled together to sue Disney for their use of Linda’s song without acknowledgement or compensation.

After the legal battle, Disney eventually settled with Linda’s three surviving daughters.

The fee remained unknown since 2006, but has since been revealed.

It was initially claimed that the bulk of the proceeds were unscrupulously taken by the lawyers and members of the trust.

However, revelations were shared that Linda’s daughters were guilty of drinking away vast amounts of the profits. understands that each daughter received in the region of R3.5 million.

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