Noah Margo has qualified as a write-in candidate in next week's election for the Beverly Hills school board. Who? Joel Bellman emails that his son's former fourth-grade teacher at L.A. Unified's Hancock Park Elementary School has extensive ties to the Zulu folk song "M'Bube."
The song was written in the 1920s by South African Solomon Linda and recorded in 1939 by Linda and his group, The Evening Birds.
Ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax brought the song to folk singer Pete Seeger, whose group The Weavers adapted it for a 1952 release as "Wimoweh."
The Tokens, a Brooklyn group that originally included Neil Sedaka, made a #1 hit pop song out of the tune in 1961, as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
Disney dropped the song into "The Lion King," so a new generation of listeners became familiar with it. Anyway, candidate Margo's father and uncle were founding members of The Tokens, Bellman says. Now Margo himself plays drums in the band — and to close the circle, his oldest son is named for Solomon Linda.
Semi-final note: The song has made a lot of money for people, and is still performed all the time. As Wikipedia notes, "For his performance of 'M'bube,' Solomon Linda was paid a small fee."
Final note: More musical connections, and a political leap, inside.
The Tokens went on to produce pop records, including The Chiffons' "He's So Fine."
Notes from "He's So Fine" later turned up in George Harrison's song "My Sweet Lord." Litigation ensued.
By the way, The Chiffons were a doo-wop girl group from James Monroe High School in the Bronx. And just because the world works that way, Joel Bellman — who provided the original background on Margo — works for Zev Yaroslavsky, whose son attended James Monroe High School here in North Hills. As did I.
The school board election in Beverly Hills is next week. Patch profiles Margo as candidate.
Alan Lomax bonus: The Land Where the Blues Began.
Photo of Noah Margo from Beverly Hills Patch