The Teddy Bears’ Picnic (named originally as the Teddy Bear Two-Step) was written as an instrumental number by the American, John Walter Bratton in 1907. It is the only one of his 250 songs to be a lasting hit. But what a hit! Although already very popular, the Teddy Bears’ Picnic reached new heights in 1932 when the Irishman, and prolific songwriter, Jimmy Kennedy added lyrics. He, however, almost lost his job as a consequence with music publisher Bert Feldman, after he ‘leaked’ the lyrics to Henry Hall who then broadcast the song on the radio the very next day. It was an instant and massive hit, leading to a deluge of requests for the sheet music. The problem was that the sheet music had not been officially published and right up until the publisher’s death 15 years later Kennedy never received any royalties for his work.
Although the Teddy Bears Picnic has been recorded by countless artists over the decades, Henry Hall’s 1932 recording (with singer Val Rosing) remains, to this day, the most famous. Such was the excellent quality of the recording that right up until the 1960s BBC audio engineers used it to test and calibrate audio equipment!