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Tony Bennett, the master stylist of American music standards, has died at the age of 96.

Tony Bennett, the legendary and timeless stylist whose dedication to classic American songs and expertise in creating new standards such as “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” A decades-long career that brought him fans from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga died Friday. He was 96, just two weeks short of his birthday.

Publicist Sylvia Weiner confirmed Bennett’s death to The Associated Press, saying he died in his hometown of New York. There was no specific reason, but Bennett was diagnosed. With Alzheimer’s disease In 2016.

The last of the great saloon singers of the mid-20th century, Bennett often said that his lifelong ambition was to make “a hit catalog rather than hit records”. He released more than 70 albums, earning him 19 competing Grammys — all but two after he reached his 60s — and enjoyed a deep and lasting love from fans and fellow artists.

Bennett did not share his story while performing. Instead he let the music do the talking – the Gershwins and Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern. Unlike his friend and mentor Sinatra, he interpreted a song rather than embodying it. If his singing and public life lacked Sinatra’s high drama, Bennett appealed with an easy, courtly manner and an unusually rich and sustained voice — “a tenor that sings like a baritone,” he called himself — that made him adept at edging a ballad or lighting up a fast number.

“I enjoy entertaining the audience, making them forget their problems,” he told The Associated Press in 2006. “I think people … if they hear something that’s sincere and honest and maybe has a little sense of humor.

Bennett was often praised by his peers, but none more so than when Sinatra said in a 1965 Life magazine interview: “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business. He excites me when I see him. He inspires me. He’s a singer who does what the musician has in mind.”

Not only did he survive the heyday of rock music, but he endured so long and so well that he gained new fans and colleagues, some of whom are his grandchildren. In 2014, at the age of 88, Bennett broke his own record as the oldest living performer with a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart. For “cheek to cheek”. His duet project with Lady Gaga. Three years ago, he topped the charts with “Duets II,” featuring contemporary stars like Gaga, Carrie Underwood and Amy Winehouse in his last studio recording. Her relationship with Winehouse was captured in the Oscar-nominated documentary “Amy,” which featured Bennett encouraging the insecure young singer through a performance of “Body and Soul.”

His last album, “Love for Sale,” released in 2021, featured the title track, “Night and Day” with Lady Gaga, and duets with Porter on other songs.

For Bennett, one of the few performers to move smoothly between pop and jazz, such collaborations were part of his crusade to expose new audiences to what he calls the Great American Songbook.

“No country has given the world so much great music,” Bennett said in a 2015 interview with Downbeat magazine. “Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern. Those songs will never die.”

Ironically, his most famous contributions came through two unknowns, George Cory and Douglas Cross, who provided Bennett with his signature song in the early ’60s when his career was in decline. He gave Bennett’s musical director, pianist Ralph Sherwin, some sheet music that he stuck in a dresser drawer and forgot about until he was packing for a tour that included a stop in San Francisco.

“Ralph saw some sheet music in his shirt drawer … and on top of the pile was a song called ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco.’

Released as the B-side to the 1962 single “Once Upon a Time,” the reflective song became a grassroots phenomenon that remained on the charts for more than two years and earned Bennett his first two Grammys, including Record of the Year.

By his early 40s, he was apparently out of fashion. But after turning 60, an age when even the most popular artists often settle down to please their older fans, Bennett and his son and manager, Danny, found creative ways to market the singer to the MTV generation. He made guest appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman” and became a popular guest artist on “The Simpsons.” He wore a black T-shirt and sunglasses as a presenter at the 1993 MTV Music Video Awards with the red-hot Chili Peppers, and his own video for “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” from his own Grammy-winning Fred Astaire tribute album ended up on MTV’s hip “Buzz Bun.”


Source by [CNBC News]



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