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Tony Bennett, One Of The Most Beloved Singers Of All Time, Has Died At 96

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Tony Bennett, One Of The Most Beloved Singers Of All Time, Has Died At 96

Bennett was one of the greatest interpreters of the Great American Songbook and the last of the great mid-century crooners; his friend and contemporaries, Frank Sinatra, called him “the best singer in the business.”

Throughout his career, he was beloved for his versions of jazz standards and for popularizing songs like “Rags to Riches” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”


Sylvia Weiner, Bennett’s spokeswoman, confirmed his death to AP and said he passed away in New York.

Since 2016, Bennett has been dealing with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Early life

Bennett was born on August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, to the name of Anthony Dominick Benedetto.

When he was 10 years old, his father died, leaving his mother, a seamstress, to care for her three children.

Tony’s passion in music began when he was inspired by the life of jazz great Louis Armstrong.

He left high school to help support his family by taking a job in an Italian eatery, where he soon found success as a singer and entertainer.

Columbia recording artist Tony Bennett as a teen idol.

“I loved that time of my life, and I honestly feel that, if I hadn’t made it professionally, I would be perfectly happy going back to being a singing waiter,” Bennett recalled to the San Diego Tribune. “It was a great training ground, as I learned so many songs from the cooks in the kitchen when we would get requests where we didn’t know the song or all the lyrics.”

Bennett put his musical career on hiatus to serve in the United States Army as an infantry rifleman during World War II, though he did perform with a military band.

Promising Start

Bennett, after transitioning back to civilian life, pursued vocal training at the American Theatre Wing.

His professional singing career as a pop singer began after he was signed to Columbia Records in 1950.

In 1953, with “Rags to Riches,” he achieved overnight success, marking the beginning of a long and illustrious career.

He kept on making hit singles and rising to prominence as a nightclub performer, performing alongside musicians like Frank Sinatra.

He released the song that would become his most famous, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” in 1962. The album it appeared on went platinum, and its rendition of the song won him a Grammy for Record of the Year.

Consistent success throughout the decade

Tony Bennett’s popularity among younger audiences is a testament to the fact that, despite the fact that the music he performed in the ’50s and ’60s became “out of style” as a result of the rise of rock and roll, he continued to perform the old standards to great acclaim.

Bennett’s fortunes turned around in the 1990s, after years of decline, thanks to his popularity with the “MTV generation.”

Numerous late-night talk shows and MTV featured him, and he even had his own MTV Unplugged special.

Not only did he win the coveted Grammy for Album of the Year, but he also managed to win over a previously untapped audience.

He kept having sold-out concerts, releasing platinum albums, and collecting trophies.

His best-selling album, Duets: An American Classic, released in 2006, had duets with Elton John, Billy Joel, Celine Dion, and Bono, and it won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Collaboration with Lady Gaga

Unexpectedly, he also had phenomenal success with pop superstar Lady Gaga.

In 2014, they toured together and published their debut duets album, Cheek to Cheek, which featured arrangements of pop standards.

Bennett set a new global record as the oldest individual to have a new album debut at number one, and the album went on to win a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Alzheimer’s disease confirmed

Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that causes dementia and memory loss, was identified as the cause of Bennett’s condition in 2016. He persevered, though, for as long as he could in his performances.

“He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do,” Gayatri Devi, M.D., the neurologist who diagnosed Bennett, told AARP. “He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder.”

At the age of 95, he published his final album, a tribute to Cole Porter titled Love For Sale, which was a collaboration with Lady Gaga.

After announcing his retirement, Bennett and Gaga did two concerts together at New York’s legendary Radio City Music Hall under the title One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

More than 50 million copies of his albums were purchased throughout the course of his seven-decade career. He has won a total of twenty Grammy Awards.

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Tony Bennett, one of the greatest vocalists of all time, has passed away. May his lovely, timeless recordings continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

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