Songwriter Roy C. Bennett co-wrote more than 40 songs recorded by Elvis Presley. None of them were major hits, but Bennett and writing partner Sid Tepper were not rock ‘n’ roll tunesmiths — they wrote ballads and novelty songs that Elvis sang in his popular movies.

Songwriter Roy C. Bennett co-wrote more than 40 songs recorded by Elvis Presley. None of them were major hits, but Bennett and writing partner Sid Tepper were not rock ‘n’ roll tunesmiths — they wrote ballads and novelty songs that Elvis sang in his popular movies.


Some Elvis historians look down on the movie songs — such as the duo’s "Song of the Shrimp" from "Girls! Girls! Girls!" or "The Bullfighter was a Lady" from "Fun in Acapulco" — but not Bennett.


"I have always been disappointed that Elvis’ movie songs are not considered worthy of him," Bennett said in a 2005 interview. "It should be remembered that these songs were written for specific situations in the scripts."


Bennett, 96, died July 2 of age-related conditions in a New York City hospital, said his son, Neil.


Bennett and Tepper, who wrote about 300 songs together, had hits with several non-Elvis titles, including "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," which charted in both the 1940s and 1960s and was covered by a wide variety of performers, including Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Wayne Newton, Perry Como and Paul Anka.


Their mid-’50s novelty hit, "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane," was recorded by Ray Charles, Dean Martin and, in 2007, the Roches. And in the early 1960s, "The Young Ones" was a chart-topper for singer Cliff Richard in Britain.


Although their "Glad All Over" (not to be confused with the better-known Dave Clark Five number of the same title) wasn’t a big hit, it had the distinction of being performed in the early 1960s by the Beatles.


Bennett and Tepper were extraordinarily successful at writing songs for Elvis, even though they never met him. The process of writing for the singer’s movies kept them at least one step removed.


The duo would get a movie script, with spots marked for songs. But Bennett and Tepper, who both wrote music and lyrics, weren’t the only songwriters receiving the script — it was a competition.


"There were about a dozen teams and individuals vying for the song spots," Bennett said in the 2005 interview for the book "Elvis Presley: Writing for the King," by Ken Sharp.


"The money spurred us on. I believe we had two or three weeks to come up with songs."


Out of the several songs submitted for a spot, a few would be chosen by music executive Freddy Bienstock, who specialized in screening songs for Elvis. These chosen few were recorded in demonstration versions with hired musicians, then sent on to Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, to pick the winner.


Their decision would be delivered to the songwriters by Bienstock.


"Our biggest thrill was when he told us we had five songs in ‘Blue Hawaii,’" Bennett said.


For "Fun in Acapulco," which featured a female bullfighter, they wrote a comic song for Elvis to sing in a nightclub setting about Pedro the bull.


"The bullfighter was a lady


"And it was true love at first sight


"Her red cape was waving but Pedro was shaving


"He wanted to date her that night."


"We believed the scenes were fun," Bennett said in an interview for elvis-collectors.com, "and it was a challenge to write for them."


Bennett was born Israel Brodsky on Aug. 12, 1918, in Brooklyn. He changed his name to the less ethnic-sounding Roy C. Bennett in 1952. "The ‘C’ didn’t stand for anything," said his son, Neil.


After graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School, Bennett enrolled at City College of New York to study accounting, but dropped out and served in the Army in World War II. Many years later he returned to the college and earned a degree because "he wanted to set a model for his children," Neil Bennett said.


Tepper, who died in April, retired from songwriting in the 1970s when he began to have health problems.


Bennett never worked much with other songwriters, but he went on to write three books: on songwriting, choral singing and, improbably, word processing.


"It was early in word processing, when WordPerfect was coming in," Neil Bennett said. "He was frustrated it was not easier to do." His book was full of hints on using the program.


But his main interest remained in music. "He would never lay claim to being of the Irving Berlin or Cole Porter caliber," his son said. "But songwriting was his passion and he took it very seriously."


Bennett is survived by his wife, Ruth; twin sons Neil and Keith; and three grandchildren.


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