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Tony Bennett dies: ‘Best singer in the business’ – how his idol Frank Sinatra’s words changed his career Ants and Arts News

“For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business.”

From Frank Sinatra himself, in a 1965 interview, there could be no higher praise.

Sinatra was a huge influence on Bennett, who Died at the age of 96..

The pair became firm friends and performed together many times over the years.

Bennett was a younger singer – Sinatra died in May 1998 aged 82.

But as they both grew into adulthood, Sinatra always called Bennett “kid” — even into old age.

Bennett said his ideal words in a 1965 essay changed his career.

Two years ago, Bennett, then 36, picked up his first. Grammy For his signature song I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

In 2022, nearly 60 years later, the pop and jazz singer was presented with his 20th award, an honor shared with his superstar colleague. Lady Gaga – At the age of 95.

Bennett performing with Lady Gaga.

During an entertainment career spanning eight decades, Bennett was one of America’s last great gangsters – achieving the rare feat of only increasing in popularity later in life.

With over 70 albums to his name, he is perhaps the only artist of all time to have charted new albums in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020 – and in 2014, he broke his record for oldest album by four weeks as the oldest artist.

Still doing well into his 90s, even after being diagnosed. Alzheimer’s Ill in 2016, Bennett was an entertainer loved by all generations. Gaga was just one of the modern artists he collaborated with in later years.

Paul McCartney, John Legend, Christina Aguilera and Michael Buble, as well as Sinatra, are all featured in a long list of others, and his 2011 duet with Amy Winehouse, Body and Soul, was the last song he recorded before his death.

“To me, life is a gift, and just being alive is a blessing,” the singer once said.

It was a quote he became famous for, the title of one of his memoirs, and one he used again in 2021 when he went public with his illness.

“Life is a gift – even with Alzheimer’s,” was the message shared on his social media accounts in February 2021.

Later that year, they performed their final farewell shows.

Singer Tony Bennett performs during the Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on September 27, 2015 in New York.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Grief, war and discovery

Born Anthony Dominic Benedetto on August 3, 1926 in Queens, New York City to parents John and Anna, young Tony and his older brother and sister, John and Mary, were raised by his mother after their mother’s death when he was only 10 years old.

As a child, he loved to sing and paint, and his passion was nurtured at Manhattan’s High School of Industrial Arts.

As he grew up, he developed a love for music by listening to artists such as Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and James ‘Jimmy’ Durant on the radio.

During his teenage years, Bennett sang while waiting tables, before being drafted into the army during World War II.

He served in the Battle of the Bulge — the last major German offensive on the Western Front, launched in 1944 from the forested Ardennes region between Belgium and Luxembourg — and participated in the liberation of a concentration camp, according to his official website biography.

During his time in Europe, he performed with a military band and, after returning to America, he studied voice at the American Theater Wing School in New York.

The singer’s first nightclub performance came in 1946 at the Shangri-La in Queens’ Astoria neighborhood with trombonist Tyree Glenn.

Her big break came three years later, when comedian Bob Hope saw her working with actress and singer Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village.

At that time he was performing on stage under the name Jo Bari.

Singer and artist Tony Bennett poses for a portrait before the opening of his art exhibit on May 3, 2017 in the Manhattan borough of New York.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

‘We call you Tony Bennett’

Hope liked Bennett’s song so much that he later met her in her dressing room and asked her to perform with him at the city’s famous Paramount Theatre.

There was only one condition.

“But first he told me he didn’t care about my stage name and asked me what my real name was,” Bennett recalled. “I said to him, ‘My name is Anthony Dominic Benedito’. And he said, ‘We’ll call you Tony Bennett’.”

“And so it was. A new American name – the beginning of a wonderful career and a wonderful adventure.”

Bennett’s first singles came in the 1950s, including the chart-toppers Big Of You, Rags To Riches, and a remake of Hank Williams’ Cold, Cold Heart.

Dozens more singles followed and her voice took her around the world, selling millions of records and performing to sold-out venues as well as numerous stars and presidents.

He released dozens of albums in the 50s, 60s and 70s but began to struggle with drug abuse as his style of music fell out of style.

After a 10-year absence from the US album charts, he returned in 1986 with The Art of Excellence and continued to release music at a rapid pace throughout the 1990s, becoming an unlikely MTV favorite.

Singer Tony Bennett is shown singing on June 23, 1960 Pic:AP
Photo: AP

Legendary couples add to its longevity.

In 2001, in his 70s, the singer was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys – but he showed no signs of slowing down.

He became known for his collaborations and released his first modern duets album, Duets: An American Classic, in 2006, featuring performances with artists including McCartney, Elton John, Barbra Streisand and Bono.

After more than 50 years in the business, it was one of the best-selling records of his career.

Ella Fitzgerald sings a duet with Tony Bennett in 1990 Pic:AP
Photo: AP

Duets II followed in 2011, featuring the artist. Aretha Franklin and John Mayer, as well as Gaga and Winehouse.

Debuting at the top of the Billboard charts, he won two Grammys, and his friendship with Gaga led to the release of their first collaborative album, Cheek to Cheek, in 2014.

Their second, Love for Sale, Bennett’s final album, followed in 2021.

As well as his music, Bennett was also known for his painting, and his work was exhibited in galleries around the world.

He was even commissioned by the United Nations, which painted a piece to mark the organization’s 50th anniversary.

He is also the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller Life Is A Gift: The Zen Of Bennett, published in 2012, and Just Getting Started, released in 2016.

Ray Charles, left, and Tony Bennett are shown at Larrabee Studios in Los Angeles on January 4, 1986. Pic:AP
Photo: AP

Family and charitable legacies

A father of four, Bennett was married three times.

At his wedding to first wife Patricia Beach in 1952, some 2,000 female fans reportedly gathered outside the ceremony – dressed in black in mock mourning. The couple had two sons, Danny and Day, before separating.

Bennett is married to actress Sandra Grant, with whom he has daughters Joanna and Antonia, and in 2007 married long-term partner Susan Crowe, now Susan Benedetto.

In 1999, he co-founded Exploring the Arts with Susan, to help strengthen the role of the arts in public high school education in the United States.

One of the organization’s first projects was the establishment of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a public high school founded in 2001 in Bennett’s hometown of Astoria, Queens.

Tony Bennett joined Stevie Wonder as he accepted the Century Award at the 2006 Billboard Music Awards.

The singer’s other charitable efforts included helping to raise millions of dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, which established a research fund in his name, and lending his artwork to the American Cancer Society’s annual holiday greeting cards to raise funds.

Along with many of his songs for his music, Bennett was also awarded the Martin Luther King Center’s “Salute to Greatness” award for his efforts in the fight against racial discrimination, after joining activists in the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march in 1965.

Singer Tony Bennett poses for photographers with his Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. "Walkin' with my friends: Bennett sang the blues," at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden in New York, February 23, 2003.  REUTERS/Peter Morgan MS/HB

The singer’s retirement from performing was announced in 2021, along with his son Danny, with his manager also saying it was doctor’s orders due to the stress of the tour.

Paying tribute to the man she described as “an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure” at the 2022 Grammys, Gaga looked emotional as she finished on stage. “I love you, Tony. We miss you.”

Following the singer’s death, the music industry is mourning one of the last great performers of his generation.

For Bennett, life was a gift — and for millions of fans over the decades, it was a gift he gave back.

Source by [Sky News]



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