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Born in New York City, Hugo Peretti began his career as a teenager, playing the trumpet in the Borscht Belt in upstate New York. He graduated to playing with orchestras, then in the 1950s partnered with his cousin Luigi Creatore to form the Hugo & Luigi songwriting team that evolved to producing records. In 1957 they bought into Roulette Records where they both wrote songs for various artists such as Valerie Carr, and produced major hits for Jimmie Rodgers, including "Honeycomb" (Billboard # 1), "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (Billboard # 3), "Oh-Oh, I'm Falling in Love Again", and "Secretly".
Two years later, Peretti and Creatore signed a contract with RCA Records where they produced crooner Perry Como. In addition, they produced Sam Cooke and Ray Peterson, and wrote English lyrics for the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (with the original bulk of the song written by Solomon Linda), producing the hit for The Tokens. With George David Weiss they co-wrote "Can't Help Falling in Love" for RCA's mega-star Elvis Presley. Peretti and Creatore also wrote the Presley hit single Wild in the Country. He and Creatore left RCA in 1964 to join George David Weiss in writing a musical about the American Civil War. Titled Maggie Flynn, it ran on Broadway in 1968. The family of South African composer Solomon Linda reached a settlement in the lawsuit over his world-famous song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in 2006.
In the 1970s, Peretti and Creatore owned part of Avco Records and then established H&L Records which they operated until retiring at the end of the decade. Among their successes were recordings by The Stylistics and The Softones. They also won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album as producers for "Bubbling Brown Sugar."
Hugo Peretti died in 1986 in Englewood, New Jersey, aged 69.
- Rondo Histriae, mixed choir from Croatia chant The Lion Sleep Tonight - (video) on YouTube
- CBC News: "South African family settles 'Lion Sleeps Tonight' lawsuit"