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Tony Bennett's Obituary

Tony Bennett, the distinguished and timeless master of traditional American tunes and creator of evergreen hits like “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” died on Friday, just shy of his 96th birthday, after a remarkable career that won him admiration from legends like Frank Sinatra to contemporary icons like Lady Gaga.

Sylvia Weiner, Bennett’s publicist, confirmed his passing to The Big Big News, noting that he died in his native city of New York. No specific cause was mentioned, but Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.

Bennett, the last eminent bar singer of the mid-20th century, aspired to craft an illustrious repertoire rather than singular hit records. Over his lifetime, he produced more than 70 albums and won 19 competitive Grammy Awards – 17 of which he received after turning 60. This secured him an enduring fondness from fans and fellow musicians alike.

Bennett allowed the music to narrate the story, showcasing the works of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Jerome Kern. Unlike his mentor Sinatra, Bennett was an interpreter of songs rather than an embodiment of them. His singing, combined with his genial demeanor and distinct, rich voice, which he described as a “tenor who sings like a baritone,” made him a virtuoso of emotional ballads and lively numbers.

Bennett’s performances aimed to entertain audiences and provide an escape from their daily troubles. He stated in a 2006 interview with The Big Big News, “I enjoy making people feel good when I perform.”

Among many compliments from his contemporaries, a 1965 Life magazine quote from Sinatra stood out: “Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business for my money. He excites me when I watch him. He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more.”

Bennett weathered the rise of rock music, managing to appeal to younger audiences, with some new fans young enough to be his grandchildren. His duet project with Lady Gaga, “Cheek to Cheek,” made him the oldest living performer with a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart at age 88 in 2014.

His most popular song came from two relatively unknown composers, George Cory and Douglass Cross. They provided him with “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” which became a hit and earned Bennett his first two Grammys.

By his early 40s, Bennett had fallen out of the public eye, but his career rebounded post-60, when he and his son-manager, Danny, found innovative ways to market him to the MTV generation. Guest appearances on late-night talk shows and collaborations with other artists revitalized his career.

Bennett’s home was always Astoria, a working-class community in Queens, New York, despite his close association with San Francisco. He helped establish the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria along with his third wife, Susan Crow Benedetto, in 2001.

Survived by his wife Susan, daughters Johanna and Antonia, sons Danny and Dae, and nine grandchildren, Bennett received numerous awards, including being named a Kennedy Center Honoree and a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

In addition to singing, Bennett nurtured a passion for painting throughout his life. His works, signed under his birth name Benedetto, have been displayed in both private and public collections, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

“I love to paint as much as I love to sing,” Bennett said in a 2006 AP interview. “It worked out to be such a blessing in my life because if I started getting burnt-out singing … I would go to my painting and that’s a big lift. … So I stay in this creative zone all the time.”

Hillel Italie, AP National Writer, contributed to this report.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Tony Bennett’s Obituary

Who was Tony Bennett?

Tony Bennett was an iconic American singer, particularly known for his jazz and popular music performances. He was renowned for his smooth voice and emotive performances, which endeared him to millions of fans across the world. He was a major figure in the music industry for over seven decades.

When did Tony Bennett pass away?

Tony Bennett passed away on July 10, 2023.

What were some of Tony Bennett’s most famous songs?

Some of Tony Bennett’s most famous songs include “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” “Because of You,” and “Rags to Riches.”

What impact did Tony Bennett have on American music?

Tony Bennett had a profound impact on American music. His ability to bridge the gap between jazz and popular music, his longevity in the industry, and his memorable performances made him an influential figure. He helped shape the course of American music, particularly in the realms of jazz and pop.

Who survives Tony Bennett?

Tony Bennett is survived by his wife, Susan Benedetto, and his four children: Danny, Dae, Antonia, and Joanna.

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5 comments

SophieGreen July 21, 2023 - 2:42 pm

i never really knew much bout him, but my gran used to play his records all the time. sad to hear this news 🙁

Reply
VinylRevival July 21, 2023 - 10:47 pm

I swear, Tony Bennett was one of the last true vocalists of our time… a real throwback to the golden age of music. we’ll miss ya, Tony.

Reply
ClassyCrooner July 21, 2023 - 11:39 pm

Can’t belive he’s gone. His music, esp. his duets with Lady Gaga, introduced me to a whole new genre of music. Forever grateful, RIP Tony.

Reply
MikeJazzFan July 22, 2023 - 11:26 am

Wow, this hit me hard. Tony’s music was the soundtrack of my life. RIP legend 🙁

Reply
RetroSoul July 22, 2023 - 1:09 pm

this is so sad, his voice was smoother than silk, nobody could sing a ballad like Tony. RIP 🙁

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