New York City and fans worldwide mourn the loss of a true musical icon- Tony Bennett. The legendary pop vocalist passed away on Friday morning at the age of 96. With a professional career spanning an astonishing eight decades, Bennett had a remarkable impact on the world of music and captured the hearts of fans across generations.
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, Bennett displayed an indomitable spirit as he continued to grace the stage and record music until 2021. His extraordinary talent and peerless vocal abilities earned him high praise from his contemporary and peer, Frank Sinatra, who dubbed him the greatest popular singer in the world.
Throughout his illustrious career, Bennett’s recordings, mainly produced for Columbia Records, radiated ebullience, immense warmth, and emotional openness. He was hailed as a gifted and technically accomplished interpreter of the Great American Songbook, leaving an indelible mark on the music industry. Among his many hits, his signature 1962 song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” became an enduring classic that remains beloved to this day.
The trajectory of Bennett’s career was marked by multiple resurgences. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he established himself as one of the top pop performers. Then, in the 1990s and the new millennium, under the management of his son Danny, his career experienced yet another surge. Notably, Bennett collaborated with several contemporary artists, including the late Amy Winehouse on the standard “Body and Soul,” and released successful duet albums with Diana Krall and Lady Gaga.
A recipient of numerous accolades, Bennett earned 18 Grammy Awards, with a total of 36 nominations, and was honored with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. He also received two Emmy Awards, a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005, and was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2006.
Born as Anthony Dominick Benedetto on August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, New York, to Italian immigrant parents, Bennett’s humble upbringing instilled in him a passion for music and art. He pursued his love for singing from a young age and honed his talents at New York’s High School of Industrial Art. Over the years, his musical influences ranged from Al Jolson and Bing Crosby to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Judy Garland.
Tony Bennett is survived by his wife Susan Benedetto, his sons Danny and Dae Bennett, his daughters Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett, as well as nine grandchildren. His impact on the world of music and his immense contribution to the arts will forever be remembered and celebrated by fans and fellow artists alike. As the music community comes together to grieve the loss of a true legend, Tony Bennett’s timeless melodies will continue to resonate in the hearts of millions worldwide.