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Tony Bennett, the legendary singer who mesmerized the youth in the 1950s and toured with Lady Gaga in 2014 and 2015, passed away at the age of 96. According to a statement from his publicist given to ABC News, Tony Bennett breathed his last at his home in New York City on Friday morning.
In 2021, Tony Bennett revealed that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, a condition he battled with courage and grace.
The world mourned the loss of Tony Bennett on Friday, paying tribute to the iconic artist. Among those who expressed their condolences was Billy Joel, who referred to Bennett as “one of the most significant interpreters of American popular song from the mid-20th century to the end.” Elton John also shared his grief, saying, “I am devastated to hear about Tony’s passing. Without a doubt, he was the finest singer, performer, and artist you ever saw. He was incomparable. My love and condolences to Susan, Danny, and the family.”
The Defining Moments in Tony Bennett’s Career
Tony Dominick Benedetto, who was born in Queens, New York, had a talent for singing jazzy songs, great American songbook standards, and pop favorites. After participating in World War II, he received a significant break when Bob Hope invited him on tour in 1949. In the 1950s, he produced a number of successful movies under the Columbia Records label, including “Because of You,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Rags to Riches,” and “Stranger in Paradise.”
Bennett’s defining song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” was published in 1962. He received two Grammy Awards for it, including Record of the Year, despite the fact that it only peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
With the onset of the British invasion, Bennett’s film hits declined, and by the end of the 1970s, his marriage ended in failure, with no manager, no record label, and struggles with substance abuse and IRS troubles. In despair, he turned to his children for support. Taking charge as his manager, his son Danny orchestrated one of the greatest comebacks in music history. Danny spearheaded Tony’s re-entry into pop culture, featuring him on late-night talk shows, “The Simpsons,” and MTV, including a stylish video for his 1993 hit “Steppin’ Out with My Baby.”
The 1994 album “Tony Bennett: MTV Unplugged,” which featured Elvis Costello and k.d. lang, was one of the highlights of this revival.
Subsequently, Bennett collaborated with UK’s Glastonbury Festival, mentored contestants on “American Idol,” starred in hit films like “Analyze This,” and maintained his poise while singing with stars like Christina Aguilera, Michael Bublé, Bono, George Michael, and Billy Joel in his star-studded duet albums.
His duet with Amy Winehouse, the popular jazz standard “Body and Soul,” was released in March 2011 and reached number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100. Bennett first collaborated with Lady Gaga on their 2011 album “Duets II,” which debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart. Their close friendship grew, and eventually, their 2014 duet album “Cheek to Cheek,” which debuted at number one, won a Grammy Award and gave birth to a successful tour. Bennett’s most recent Grammy win in 2022 was for his duet album “Love for Sale” with Lady Gaga, named Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
Aside from winning twenty Grammy and two Emmy Awards, Bennett’s accolades include Canada’s Centennial Honor, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, Grammy and ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Awards, and an eight-foot-tall statue in front of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco honoring his likeness.
Bennett’s experiences during World War II, including attending a desegregation rally, inspired him to become a lifelong advocate for peace and humanity. He was nicknamed “Tony Beneficent” for his numerous charity performances.
He was also a respected painter, with his works displayed in galleries worldwide, including the Smithsonian Institution. He and his wife Susan co-founded Exploring the Arts, along with a public performing arts high school, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, in Queens, New York.
Bennett performed at the inauguration of former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and former President Barack Obama’s second inaugural celebration in 2013.
What Famous Personalities Had to Say About Tony Bennett
Bill and Hillary Clinton said in a statement, “We loved Tony Bennett and admired his talent and his deep commitment to humanity and the broader principles of equality and fairness.”
Obama tweeted, “Tony Bennett was a distinguished songwriter and entertainer who enchanted generations of fans. Michelle and I will always be grateful that he lent his presence to my inauguration ceremony.”
Tony Bennett’s Family
The four children Tony Bennett had with his first wife Susan, boys Danny and Dae, and daughters Joanna and Antonia, all survive him.
Tony Bennett’s timeless music and indomitable spirit have left an enduring mark on the world, making him an icon cherished by generations. As we bid farewell to this musical legend, his songs will continue to echo in the hearts of fans for generations to come.