Tuesday, August 24, 2010

George David Weiss, Writer of Hit Pop Songs, Dies at 89

Songwriter George Davis Weiss (April 9, 1921, New York City, New York – August 23, 2010 Oldwick, New Jersey), who penned such classic tunes as “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and “What a Wonderful World,” died yesterday at his home in New Jersey. The death was of natural causes, his wife said.

Among his most famous numbers were “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” recorded by Elvis Presley; “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” recorded by the Tokens; and “What a Wonderful World,” recorded by Louis Armstrong.

For “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” (1961) Weiss reworked an old South African Zulu song called “Mbube,” originally penned by South African musician Solomon Linda. “I did some research and found out that the chant was connected to the lion,” Weiss recalled in 1995. “So I began to think and I came up with the notion that the darn lion was sleeping tonight and nobody had to worry. And I incorporated the chant into the song and wrote some melodies and counter melodies.” The track was a hit for the Tokens in 1961 and would subsequently be recorded by Robert John, Brian Eno, and the Nylons, amongst others. It would also feature in both the film and stage versions of The Lion King. “The song leads a magical life,” Weiss said in 1995. “I don’t know what to think about it. I never thought of it as a song, but rather as a series of gimmicks thrown together. It just shows you—you can’t second guess the public.”

[ Best way to watch and listen to the video is to turn off the Flash Player on the bottom ][ of this page by clicking the II button ]
Took a funny video but the singers are the Tokens

“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” introduced in Presley’s 1961 film “Blue Hawaii,” was a million-seller. It has words and music by Mr. Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore.
It is a song based on "Plaisir d'amour" by Jean Paul Egide Martini. It was adapted for inclusion in the 1961 film Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis Presley. During the following four decades, it went on to be covered by numerous artists, most notably by the UK group UB40, whose 1993 version also topped the UK singles charts.
Beautiful live version of the song and Elvis!

“What a Wonderful World” (1967), with words and music by Mr. Weiss and Bob Thiele. It was originally offered to Tony Bennett, who turned it down. It was then sent to Louis Armstrong who would make the track his signature song. It was featured on the soundtrack of the 1987 film “Good Morning, Vietnam.” The Armstrong version has since become a contemporary standard.

Mr. Weiss’s other standards include “Lullaby of Birdland” (1952), the vocal version of George Shearing’s jazz standard, and many songs with his frequent collaborator Bennie Benjamin, among them “Surrender” (1946), recorded by Perry Como; “Confess” (1948), recorded by Patti Page; and “Wheel of Fortune” (1952), recorded by Kay Starr.
"Let's Put It All Together" - co-written by Luigi Creatore and Hugo Peretti
"That Sunday, That Summer" (1963) - co-written by Joe Sherman
"Mr. Wonderful" (1955) - co-written by Jerry Bock and Lawrence Holofcener
"Stay With Me" (1966) - co-written by Jerry Ragovoy

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