Tony Bennett, the internationally famous singer whose voice epitomized the American Songbook, has died at the age of 96. Despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, Bennett continued to perform live and release new music, leaving a lasting impact on the music industry.
Early Life and Music Career
- Tony Bennett was born as Anthony Dominick Benedetto in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, N.Y.
- He began his career as a singing waiter in Astoria, Long Island, and later signed with Columbia Records in 1950.
- His first big hit was “The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams,” which marked the beginning of a 10-year string of successful records.
- Although known as a crooner, Bennett had a love for jazz and recorded jazz albums with notable artists such as Art Blakey and the Count Basie Orchestra.
- He embraced the jazz sensibility in his music, earning the respect of musicians like Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.
Signature Song: “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”
- In 1962, Bennett’s career skyrocketed with the release of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
- The song was initially discovered accidentally by Bennett’s accompanist, Ralph Sharon, who found the sheet music while on tour.
- “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” became an international hit, winning Bennett two Grammy Awards and remaining on the charts for almost a year.
Advocacy and Social Impact
- Bennett used his fame to support social causes, including civil rights.
- In 1965, he performed in Montgomery, Alabama, after the “Bloody Sunday” incident during the Selma to Montgomery march, supporting the civil rights movement.
Legacy and Lasting Impact
- Throughout his career, Bennett remained true to his style, primarily singing standards and avoiding rock music.
- He continued to perform and collaborate with various artists, introducing his timeless voice to new generations of music lovers.
- Bennett’s duet album, “Love For Sale,” with Lady Gaga reached the Billboard Top 10 when he was 95, demonstrating his enduring popularity.
- His passion for music and life was evident, and he pursued his interests in painting landscapes and portraits alongside his musical career.
Tony Bennett’s remarkable journey as a legendary singer and performer has left an indelible mark on the American Songbook and the music world. His unique voice, love for jazz, and commitment to social causes have made him a cherished figure in the hearts of many. Although he has left us, his music and legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.