Teddy Bear’s Picnic

American composer John Bratton wrote the music for "Teddy Bear's Picnic" in 1907. It was first published by M. Witmark & Sons as a piano work titled "The Teddy Bears Picnic. Characteristic Two Step". Irishman Jimmy Kennedy added the lyrics in 1932.

Dance Band leader Henry Hall hosted a radio program on the BBC which aired at the peak time of 5:15 pm. Henry soon realized children and their mothers were probably a large part of the audience, and wanted something suitable. Unable to find anything, he sent his arranger, Tony Lowery, to Feldman music publishers in Denmark Street, London. Here he saw Jimmy Kennedy (who worked for the company), who recalled the lyrics to "Teddy Bear's Picnic". Tony took the music, made an arrangement, and presented it to the band the next day. Hall loved it and broadcast it the same day. The broadcast was a hit, and the BBC was inundated with calls requesting sheet music and recordings. However, Kennedy hadn't told Feldman about the broadcast, and Feldman were caught off guard with this inundation of requests for music, and hadn't yet made a deal with the American publishers of the music. Feldman did a rapid print run, and reprimanded Kennedy by not assigning him royalties.

The first vocal recording was made in 28 September 1932, sung by Val Rosing, and accompanied by Henry Hall and His Orchestra. By the end of the decade, sales had surprised three million records. Until the 1960s, BBC audio engineers pressed special copies of this recording to use test the fidelity of the audio equipment because of it's wide range and good tone quality.


J. J. Kennedy. The Man Who Wrote the Teddy Bear's Picnic: How Irish-born lyricist and composer Jimmy Kennedy became one of the twentieth century’s finest songwriters. Central Milton Keynes: Authorhouse, 2007.