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Passings: Sid Tepper, Wrote the Most Songs Recorded by Elvis Presley (1918 - 2015)

Sid Tepper, a songwriter who wrote pop classics and, with Roy C. Bennett, the most songs recorded by Elvis Presley of any songwriters, died on Friday at the age of 96.

Tepper was born in Miami Beach but moved to Brooklyn as a youth. After serving in the Army during World War II, he started writing at Mills Music where he started collaborating with childhood friend Roy Bennett.

The pair had their first big hit in 1948 with Jo Stafford's Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart (1948 / #10) but it was the next year when they really broke out with the song Red Roses For a Blue Lady which was a hit for both Guy Lombardo (1949 / #8) and Vaughn Monroe (1949 / #3).

Over the next decade, they continued to place a number of songs in the top ten by artists like Johnny Bond (Love Song in 32 Bars / 1950 / #8 Country), Pee Wee King (Busybody / 1952 / #8 Country / #27 Pop), the Ames Brothers (The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane / 1954 / #3 U.S. / #6 U.K.), the Stargazers (Twenty Tiny Fingers / 1955 / #4 U.K.), Perry Como (Kewpie Doll / 1958 / #6 U.S. / #9 U.K.), Marty Robbins (Stairway to Love / 1958 / #2 Country) and the Christmas classics Suzy Snowflake and Nuttin' For Christmas (Barry Gordon & Art Mooney / 1955 / #6).

As the Rock era flourished, the duo adapted to the new sound, writing a number of hits for Cliff Richard including Travelin' Light (1959 / #1 U.K.), When the Girl in Your Arms is the Girl in Your Heart (1961 / #3 U.K.) and The Young Ones (1962 / #1 U.K.). They also wrote the top ten U.K. hit Wonderful World of the Young by Danny Williams (1962 / #8 U.K.).

But it was their writing for Elvis Presley for which they may be best remembered. Together, they wrote over 50 songs for Elvis, mostly for his 60's movies. The producers wanted non-Rock and Roll songs for the films and scripts were sent out to a number of songwriters to, essentially, compete for slots in the films. Tepper said in an interview for the book Elvis Presley: Writing For the King by Ken Sharp "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. We wrote songs for all the stars of our generation."

Among the songs written by Tepper and Bennett for Elvis:

  • Puppet on a String (1965 / #14 Pop / #3 Adult Contemporary)
  • All That I Am (1966 / #41 Pop / #9 Adult Contemporary)
  • Stay Away (1968 / #67)
  • G.I. Blues
  • Shoppin' Around
  • Hawaiian Sunset
  • Beach Boy Blues
  • Just For Old Times Sake
  • A Boy Like Me, A Girl Like You
  • The Lady Loves Me
  • Once is Enough
  • Beginner's Luck
  • I Love Only One Girl
In the early 70's, Tepper had a heart attack and retired from regular songwriting. 

Tepper is survived by five children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.