Tony Bennett, the legendary vocalist who had an illustrious career spanning eight decades, has died at the age of 96. Known for his collaborations with artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga, Bennett’s music resonated with audiences worldwide, leading to millions of records sold. Over the course of his career, he won 18 Grammy Awards, including a prestigious lifetime achievement trophy.
According to Variety, Tony Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. However, he continued to perform and record music until 2021. Dubbed by Frank Sinatra as the greatest singer in the world, Bennett signed with Columbia Records in 1950. His music exuded enthusiasm, warmth, vocal clarity, and emotional openness, contributing to Bennett’s distinctive style.
Described as a “gifted and technically accomplished interpreter of the Great American Songbook,” Tony Bennett will likely be best remembered for his iconic 1962 hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Whether performing with intimate combos, accompanied by his pianist and longtime musical director Ralph Sharon, or surrounded by lavishly arranged orchestras, Bennett was always at ease.
Tony Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, however, he continued to perform and record music until 2021.
While not exclusively a jazz singer, Tony Bennett thrived in jazz environments and left a lasting impression with recordings alongside Count Basie’s big band and the melodically expressive pianist Bill Evans. He has been an active recording artist since 1949, and in the next two decades, Bennett established himself as one of the world’s top performers.
In the 1990s and the new millennium, Tony Bennett experienced a career resurgence, thanks to the management of his son Danny. In his later years, the singer he collaborated with, Amy Winehouse, on “Body and Soul.” Bennett also released a full-length duet album with Diana Krall and two recordings with Lady Gaga.
Tony Bennett’s final public appearance was at Radio City Music Hall in August 2021, alongside Lady Gaga, just two months before their last joint release, “Love for Sale,” following the success of their 2014 collaboration, “Cheek to Cheek.” As his music career experienced a resurgence in later years, Bennett’s reputation as a painter also flourished.
Tony Bennett will likely be best remembered for his iconic 1962 hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
Tony Bennett’s artwork received international recognition through gallery exhibitions, and his depiction of New York’s Central Park now hangs in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. In 1996 and 2007, he published books about his art and released his autobiography, “The Good Life,” co-written with Will Friedwald, in 1998.
Additionally, Tony Bennett earned primetime Emmys for his acclaimed recitals “Live by Request” in 1996 and “An American Classic” in 2007. He even dabbled in acting, making guest appearances on the detective show 77 Sunset Strip in the 1960s and securing a featured role in the 1966 movie The Oscar. As his career progressed, Bennett’s tenor evolved into a burnished baritone.
Tony Bennett’s final public appearance was at Radio City Music Hall in August 2021, alongside Lady Gaga
However, Tony Bennett consistently maintained his exceptional interpretive abilities, showcased in two “Duets” collections with a diverse array of much younger stars. The second collection reached the top of the charts with an impressive debut week of 179,000 copies sold, making Bennett the oldest artist in history to release a number one album.
Tony Bennett leaves behind his wife, Susan Benedetto, two sons, Danny and Dae Bennett, his daughters, Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett, and nine grandchildren.