One of the most adored singers of all time, Tony Bennett, passed away at the age of 96.
Bennett, the final of the great mid-century crooners, is recognised as one of the greatest interpreters of the Great American Songbook ever; his friend and fellow performer Frank Sinatra called him “the best singer in the business.”
Over the course of his long career, he became well-liked due to his interpretations of jazz standards. He also popularised tunes like “Rags to Riches” and his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
Bennett’s spokeswoman Sylvia Weiner informed the Associated Press that the actor had passed away in his native New York. Since 2016, Bennett has had an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
In 2016, Bennett received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative neurological condition characterised by dementia and memory loss. He nevertheless continued to perform for as long as he could.
“He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do,” Gayatri Devi, M.D., the neurologist who made Bennett’s diagnosis, told AARP. He truly represents hope for people with cognitive disorders.
In honour of Cole Porter, he collaborated once more with Lady Gaga on his final album, Love For Sale, which was published when he was 95 years old. One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, which was advertised as his final performance before retiring, was one of the two concerts the pair gave at New York’s famous Radio City Music Hall.
Bennett published nearly 70 albums during the course of his seven-decade career, which saw him sell more than 50 million copies. 20 Grammy Awards are among his accolades.
On August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born, becoming Bennett. His mother, a seamstress, raised his three siblings by herself when his father went away when he was just 10 years old.
Louis Armstrong, a jazz great, inspired Tony to become interested in music. After quitting high school to work at an Italian restaurant to support his family, he rapidly found success as a singing waiter.
According to Bennett, who spoke to the San Diego Tribune, “I loved that time of my life, and I honestly that, if I hadn’t made it professionally, I would be perfectly happy going back to being a singing waiter.” When we would get requests for songs that we didn’t know or all the lyrics to, the cooks in the kitchen would teach us the songs. “It was a great training ground,” I said.
Bennett’s music career was put on hiatus while he served in the US Army as an infantry rifleman during World War II, but he did provide entertainment for the troops as a member of a band unit.
Bennett studied singing at the American Theatre Wing after returning to the workforce. He signed with Columbia Records in 1950, starting his career as a pop crooner. “Rags to Riches,” his first number one single, launched a storied career for him in 1953.
He carried on producing hit singles and became into a well-known nightclub performer, competing with musicians like Frank Sinatra.
He made the recording of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in 1962, which has since become his hallmark tune. He received the Record of the Year Grammy Award for the song, which was included on the same-named platinum-selling album.
Tony Bennett continued to perform the classic classics even though the music he played in the 1950s and 1960s was “out of style” at the time and replaced by rock & roll and other genres.
Bennett’s 1990s return was significant after years of decline thanks to his attraction to the “MTV generation.” He appeared frequently on late-night talk shows and on MTV, notably in his own MTV Unplugged special. He not only won the prestigious Grammy Award for Album of the Year, but he also gained popularity among a new group of people.
He proceeded to play to packed houses, release records that went gold, and garner numerous accolades. His 2006 album Duets: An American Classic, which featured duets with Elton John, Billy Joel, Celine Dion, and Bono, became his best-selling album and received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. This was one of his greatest achievements.