Tony Bennett, Legendary Singer and Master Pop Vocalist, Dies at 96

Tony Bennett, Legendary Singer and Master Pop Vocalist, Dies at 96 - 68

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Tony Bennett, the legendary New York crooner who enchanted generations of listeners with his smooth voice and timeless songs, has died at the age of 96. His family announced his passing on Friday, saying he died peacefully at his home in Manhattan surrounded by loved ones. The cause of his death was not disclosed, but Bennett had revealed in February that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
Bennett was one of the most acclaimed and influential singers of the 20th century, with a career that spanned seven decades and more than 50 albums. He was known for his mastery of pop standards, jazz, show tunes and classical music, as well as his collaborations with artists from various genres, such as Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, k.d. lang and Frank Sinatra. He won 19 Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement award in 2001, and two Emmy Awards. He was also a Kennedy Center Honoree, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Bennett was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto on August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, to Italian immigrant parents. He grew up listening to Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and Louis Armstrong, and began singing at an early age. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, where he experienced the horrors of combat and witnessed the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp. After returning to New York, he studied music at the American Theatre Wing and started performing in nightclubs under the stage name Joe Bari. He was discovered by Bob Hope in 1949, who suggested he change his name to Tony Bennett.
Bennett signed with Columbia Records in 1950 and soon became a star with hits such as “Because of You”, “Rags to Riches” and “Stranger in Paradise”. He reached the peak of his popularity in the late 1950s and early 1960s with albums such as “The Beat of My Heart”, “Basie Swings, Bennett Sings” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, which became his signature song. He also appeared on television shows, movies and Broadway musicals.
Bennett faced a decline in his career in the late 1960s and 1970s as rock music dominated the charts and he struggled with drug addiction and financial troubles. He staged a comeback in the late 1980s and 1990s with the help of his son and manager Danny Bennett, who introduced him to a younger audience through MTV Unplugged, duets albums and appearances on shows like “The Simpsons” and “Saturday Night Live”. He continued to record and perform until his final public appearance in August 2021 at Radio City Music Hall with Lady Gaga, his partner on two successful albums.
Bennett was married three times and had four children. He is survived by his wife Susan Benedetto, whom he married in 2007, and his children Dae, Danny, Antonia and Joanna.
Bennett’s fans and fellow artists have expressed their grief and admiration for him on social media, calling him a legend, an icon and a national treasure. His songs have also gone viral on streaming platforms as people pay tribute to his legacy.
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