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    Teddy Bears' Picnic.

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    Michael Cull.

    by Michael Cull.

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    John Walter Bratton (1867 - 1947) was an American composer and theatrical producer.
    Brought up by his Grandmother in New Castle Delaware near Wilmington, Bratton studied at the Philadelphia College before embarking on a career as a baritone singer. Bratton progressed into acting in and producing musical comedies, ultimately composing for the stage.
    He wrote over 250 songs, but is best remembered for his 1907 composition "Teddy Bears' Picnic" the only one of his songs to be a lasting hit. Although most of his compositions had lyrics, he left Teddy Bears'Picnic as an instrumental. Perhaps because it sold so well as sheet music he never felt the need to do anything else with it, except feature it in some silent movie hits of the twenties.
    Some 25 years later lyricist Jimmy Kennedy (then relatively unknown) was working in London's Tin Pan Alley, employed by Music Publisher Bert Feldman, and was asked by his boss to write words to the instrumental for a pantomime. Henry Hall of the BBC Dance Orchestra became aware that the instrumental now had lyrics, so he broadcast the song in the kiddies' section of his popular radio show the very next day before it had been officially published.
    The publisher's office was deluged with requests for sheet music which did not exist. Kennedy was almost sacked and was punished by Bert Feldman by having his royalties withheld for the rest of Feldman's life: some 15 years or so!
    It was obvious from the listeners' reaction that this would be a hit so Henry Hall recorded it. The rest, they say, is history. Bratton died in Brooklyn, New York, aged 80.