Elvis Presley Songwriter Sid Tepper Dies at 96
Sid Tepper, who famously co-wrote more than 40 songs for Elvis Presley, is dead at age 96. His daughter Jackie confirmed that Tepper died on Friday (April 24) of natural causes, the Miami Herald reports.
By the time he began working with Presley during the early rocker's movie era, Tepper had already collaborated on a string of early pop hits with Roy C. Bennett. They included Jo Stafford (1948's "Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart"), Guy Lombardo (1949's "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," written for Tepper's wife Lillian, who died in 2005), Perry Como (1958's "Kewpie Doll"), Marty Robbins (1958's "Stairway to Love") and Cliff Richard (1959's "Travelin' Light' and 1961's "When the Girl in Your Arms is the Girl in Your Heart"), among others.
Tepper and Bennett also composed "Nuttin' for Christmas," a holiday classic even today, before the pair found a second career writing for Presley. The Beatles ("Glad All Over," with George Harrison taking over lead vocals), Jeff Beck and Carl Perkins covered his music, too. Still, Tepper and Bennett were subjected to open competitions for each new script. "To be honest, it was a little downer feeling that we had to compete with the other writers because Roy and I had a life before Elvis," Tepper told Ken Sharp for the book Elvis Presley: Writing For the King. "We wrote songs for all the stars of our generation."
Among Tepper's best-known co-writes with Bennett for Presley were the No. 14 hit "Puppet on a String," "G.I. Blues," "All That I Am," "Once is Enough" and "Stay Away." The pair earned five songwriting credits in 1961's Blue Hawaii alone. Elvis memorably sang their song "The Lady Loves Me" poolside with actress Ann-Margret in 1964's Viva Las Vegas.
While none of those tracks became acknowledged classics like Presley's earlier work, Tepper took enormous pride in this period. "I believe that Elvis' movies and their songs made a mighty contribution to his career," Tepper said in a 2005 interview. "They brought him to the attention of millions of people who otherwise would never have known the greatness of the King."
Bennett was a childhood friend. He and Tepper began writing together at Mills Music, after Tepper served in the Army during World War II. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 25, 1918, Tepper retired to Florida after suffering a heart attack in the '70s.
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