"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" no more??

Well, not exactly, but…

Whatever happened to The Tokens’ version of the song? Lately the oldies station here – which broadcasts as “The True Oldies Channel” part of the day and locally part of the day – suddenly stopped playing it in favor of Robert John’s version…this is on both the Scott Shannon’s satellite programming AND local programming.

I didn’t know until today it was Robert John, but I looked on iTunes to see which version I was hearing, and I noticed that every instance of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” that’s credited to The Tokens was actually a remake.

What gives??? Not that I ever liked the song (I always thought it was quite a cheesy piece of dreck), but why all of a sudden does it seem that The Tokens’ version is, well…blacklisted???

I grew up with Tight Fit’s version, and therefore prefer it.

In the space ship, the silver space ship
The lion takes control
In the space ship, the silver space ship
The lion takes control

Oldies stations have been moving their time frame up. You don’t hear them playing very much stuff from the 50s and less from the pre-Beatles 60s. There’s also more from the 80s. The Tokens lose out under that trend.

It alarms me when songs from the 90s are considered Classic Hits.

Yea, especially since everybody knows that it the music from the '80s are the real classics.

I suppose what the radio stations considered to be Classic Hits are the songs that their audiences grew up listening to.

Personally I perfer Jimmy Cliffs version of: The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

I think someone on here linked to the original version which is beautiful.

I see I’m not the only one to notice, but, for me, it was about 5-7 years ago that I noticed the switch. There’s at least one other oldies tune that I can’t think of off the top of my head that has been similarly phased out (at least it seems to me.)

wow! that was awesome, if I had not been told that this was the original version I probably would not have realized it. other than the falsetto part I don’t hear any similarity. Where did awhemoweh come from? It doesn’t sound like what is being chanted here and I always thought it was an Afican word.

That’s the version which most influenced the version I grew up with, which is Pete Seeger’s.

There’s an African word, and a copyright dispute, behind all that:


“You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes seems to have suffered the same fate. The newer replacement (Phil Collins’, I assume) is a decent cover, but in no way superior to the original. Heaven forbid young folks hear something recorded before they were born, eh?

I noted the sequence of song variations here, which prompted this post. by spark240 linking to this article by Rian Milan about Pete Seeger’s efforts to do right by the original songwriter, and how they were thwarted.

Hush, my darling, be still my darling,
The lion’s on the phone.

Okay, I get the phasing-out due to the gradual change of definition as to what an “oldie” is (fwiw, though, I still hear The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” incessantly), but…how does that explain why on iTunes (and Amazon, for that matter), every occurrence of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” that’s supposed to be The Tokens is a rerecording? Is there more to the copyright dispute than contributors to the Wikipedia article wrote?