Chart Performance: Pop (#1); 1983
Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne
Lyrics about Africa don’t usually equal pop success, yet, two #1 records sang of the Dark Continent. The first was based on a South African Zulu folk song entitled Mbube. In 1961, with a folk revival underway in America, a doo-wop group from New York called The Tokens rode The Lion Sleeps Tonight, with revamped lyrics, all the way to the top. The second, Africa, occurred just over 21 years later, recorded by a group from the West coast. The main members of Toto were seasoned studio veterans who had played on records by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, Jackson Browne, and – most importantly – Boz Scaggs and his Silk Degrees album. With the addition of several other long-time players and friends, the group, now known as Toto, was perfectly poised to capitalize on Degrees’ groundbreaking blend of soul, rock, and pop. On February 5, 1983 Africa hit #1 and two weeks later Toto IV won an Album of the Year Grammy.
This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.
Lyrics Written by:
- David Paich