Having studied poetry, Sid Tepper eventually found a passion for writing song lyrics. He was joined by Roy C. Bennett, who studied music, and their collaboration became a melding of sorts. Yet, it was a circumstantial spat that Tepper had with his wife that spurred a nearly 30-year partnership. Their first collaborative effort was a song titled ‘Red Roses for a Blue Lady,’ recorded first by Dean Martin.
The title itself conjures the image of a love poem. Tepper and Bennett specialized in ballads, and as with most ballads, the words and thoughts express the deepest sentiments of love. The songs crafted by these two songwriters not only speak to passion but also give life to the relatable fits of desperation attached to being hopelessly in love. ‘Red Roses for a Blue Lady’ gives a heartfelt example of love’s eternal quality.
The duo’s lyrics were so notably powerful that they made their way to the silver screen; many of Tepper and Bennett’s songs were contracted for film, particularly those starring Elvis Presley. The films and songs Elvis sang exemplified the parity Presley assumed, both as a musical performer and as an actor. The soundtracks often exhibited a side of Elvis not seen in his raw, raspy stage performances. His performance of ‘The Lady Loves Me’ in G.I. Blues is one example of how Tepper and Bennett’s ballads brought Elvis’s softer side to the surface.
Each piece that Tepper and Bennett were commissioned to write was steeped in the sentiment that ‘You can’t leave love in your will; you have to give it while you’re living.’ Tepper and Bennett were masters of using language to create an emotional windfall, and such was the case in ‘Kiss of Fire,’ written for Louis Armstrong.
With the impending ‘British Invasion’ of the 1960s, artists such as Cliff Richards and The Beatles made their way to American audiences, and many local musicians subsequently fell by the wayside. Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett, however, continued to thrive. Some of their biggest hits were written for Cliff Richards – England’s version of Elvis Presley. The songwriting duo also crafted ‘Glad All Over’ for The Beatles, which featured on their album titled Thirty Weeks In 1963. The song’s lyrics embodied the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll as a genre, embracing an energy that was set to erupt on stages and within concert halls across the country and around the world.
The NYC-based duo’s work was subsequently performed by a veritable who’s who of music and film legends, including Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and Shirley Temple, to name a few. However, their greatest talent was bringing their poetry to life. Like all great works of poetry, these songs and film soundtracks will continue to influence generations of musicians and listeners to come.