Unless you're talking about Irving Berlin or Rodgers and Hammerstein, songwriters generally don't have household names. Take Sid Tepper, who wrote more than 300 songs recorded by some of the greatest artists of all time, including 45 hits for Elvis Presley. Only the most obsessive fans have ever heard of the guy. Now, he's getting some of his due.
The town of Surfside recognized Tepper, a resident there from 1970 until 2004, for his extraordinary songwriting career on Tuesday evening and proclaimed June 25 - his 90th birthday - Sid Tepper Day. Town officials also plan to create Surfside¹s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and award Tepper a star.
"Maybe in the downtown business district along the sidewalk, or in the new community center," said Vice Mayor Marc Imberman. Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer, author Syd Hoff and Channel 7 anchor Belkys Nerey could also have their names inscribed on the sidewalk. Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin also showed up at the meeting Tuesday to make a declaration of his own: The Miami Beach City Commission designated June 11 as Sid Tepper Day.
... The competition was fierce, but the duo¹s earlier successes eventually caught the attention of Elvis Presley's people. After that, the two were in for the ride of their lives. "You knew when you wrote a song for an Elvis Presley movie it was guaranteed to sell a million copies," Tepper said. In January 2002, record company BMG International released a compilation of 52 songs that Tepper wrote and Elvis sang. The double CD, Elvis Sings Sid Tepper & Roy Bennett, quickly became a collector's item with only 250,000 printed.
... That same month, Lisa Marie Presley and the staff of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., recognized him for his contributions to Elvis' career at a ceremony in Memphis. Tears welled in the corners of his eyes last week as Tepper sang along with his CD player. "I used to be a wannabe singer, so sometimes I'd do the demos we sent to Elvis," Tepper said.
He sounded like a professional, snapping his fingers and singing along in perfect tempo and harmony to such classics as "Lonesome Cowboy," "New Orleans," "G.I. Blues," "Hawaiian Sunset," "Song of the Shrimp" and "Just for Old Time Sake," a ballad he said Elvis loved even though it never became a big hit.
Tepper smiled, reminiscing about Elvis unbelievable singing ability that ran the gamut from blues to ballads. Something many people don't know, Tepper said, is that Elvis couldn't read music or play an instrument. But he didn't need to. [Not true - Elvis played piano and organ, also some guitar - Ed.]
"We'd send him the demo and he'd listen to it twice and be ready to go like he'd sung it his whole life," Tepper said. "My favorite singer was Frank Sinatra, but he wasn't nearly as multifaceted as Elvis." Sinatra was difficult to work with - a professional stickler, Tepper recalled.