Tony Bennett

One of the greats of American popular music, Tony Bennett's languid vocal style has captivated fans of all ages across six decades. Born Anthony Benedetto on August 3, 1926, in Queens, New York, he was the son of an Italian immigrant grocer growing up in poverty. Tony Bennett returned home after fighting on the front line in World War II to embark on one of the great show business careers of all time. His first break came when singer Pearl Bailey asked him to open shows for her, leading to Columbia Records releasing his first hit - the ballad “Because of You” - in 1951. Other hits like “Blue Velvet”, “Rags to Riches” and “Stranger in Paradise” followed as Bennett expanded his style to incorporate big band jazz. In 1962, he recorded his defining signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, which became a hit all over the world. His career stalled, however, after his marriage broke up and he suffered from ill health and drug problems, but he bounced back in the mid-1980s with a return to the classic American songbook as a new generation fell in love with his easy listening style. He even became a cult hero with younger audiences after collaborations with artists ranging from Elvis Costello to U2’s Bono and appearances at rock events, notably Glastonbury Festival. In 2010, at the age of 84, Tony Bennett was one of the artists who performed on the “We Are the World: 25 for Haiti” charity single. The following year, he released Duets II, a follow-up to his previous collaborative album, featuring tracks with Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson, and Aretha Franklin. Refusing to slow down in his advancing years, 2015 saw him release an album of Jerome Kern songs titled The Silver Lining - The Songs of Jerome Kern. The following year, just before his 90th birthday, he was honored with an eight-foot statue of his likeness outside the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel, the location of his first performance of his most famous song. In 2018, he teamed up with jazz singer Diana Krall to record the collaborative album Love Is Here to Stay. The winner of 20 Grammy Awards and numerous honors throughout his career, Tony Bennett continued to perform, although his schedule wasn’t as busy as in previous years. In August of 2021, it was announced that he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and was retiring from live performances. Two months later, he released Love for Sale, his second duets album with Lady Gaga, the follow-up to their 2014 album Cheek to Cheek. That album turned out to be the last new full-length album released in his lifetime. After suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for seven years, Tony Bennett died at home in New York City on July 21, 2023, at the age of 96.

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