A songwriter and record producer who was behind some of the most familiar songs of the late 1950s and early 1960s has died. The New York Times reports that Luigi Creatore died Sunday in Boca Raton, Fla., of complications from pneumonia. He was 93.
Creatore formed the songwriting and producing partnership Hugo & Luigi with his cousin Hugo Peretti in the 1950s, and they went on to craft records for Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Perry Como and others, The Times reports.
They produced two big 1957 hits for Jimmie Rodgers — “Honeycomb” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.” They wrote the English lyrics for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” based on the 1939 song “Mbube,” originally written and recorded by Solomon Linda. The Tokens’ version of the song, produced by Hugo & Luigi, became a No. 1 hit in 1961 and has remained a staple of pop culture, sometimes called “Wimoweh” and also known by other titles.
The cousins had a good run at RCA that included work with R&B legend Sam Cooke, with the team producing “Chain Gang,” “Twistin’ the Night Away” and “Wonderful World,” among other hits.
Here’s a chance to give another listen to the Tokens’ unforgettable “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”: