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Who Tony Bennett
What Legendary singer Tony Bennett dead at 96
When July 21, 2023
Where New York, NY

Famed American singer Tony Bennett died Friday at the age of 96.

His publicist, Sylvia Weiner, confirmed Bennett's death to The Associated Press, saying that Bennett passed away in his hometown of New York.

As of now, there has been no specific cause of death announced, although Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2016.

A tribute to Bennett was posted on his official Instagram page that read, "Tony left us today but he was still singing the other day at his piano and his last song was, ‘Because of You,’ his first #1 hit. Tony, because of you we have your songs in our heart forever."

A performer for seven decades, Bennett played his last concert in 2021 at Radio City Music Hall with frequent collaborator and friend Lady Gaga.

The event was titled "One Last Time: An Event with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga" and aired on Nov. 28 of that year. Fans and critics alike were moved by his performance, and it was noted that despite battling Alzheimer's for several years at that point, he was still able to command the stage with "hardly a stumble over a single lyric."

It was a remarkable send-off to a remarkable career that began in the early '50s.

Bennett began singing not long after finishing up his service in the Army during World War II. He fought in the European theater and wrote in his autobiography, "The Good Life," that it was a "terrifying, demoralizing experience" and that he "saw things no human being should ever have to see."

Bennett was signed to Columbia Records in 1950, and after mild success, he got a number one hit with "Because of You" in 1951.

In the years following his career, he continued to thrive, and in 1962, he released one of his most popular songs, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

Contemporary Frank Sinatra told Life magazine in 1965, "For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business. 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."

Soon after, the trend in popular music began to shift. Crooners like Bennett were no longer on top, and rock ‘n’ roll began to take over the charts. His career suffered during this transition, especially when his record label attempted to change his style to more closely match The Beatles, who had been blowing up in the U.K.

His career floundered for years after this – his record label dropped him in 1971 -- but in 1986 he released an album called "The Art of Excellence," and while it did not do as well commercially as his earlier works, it did serve to revitalize his career which would remain steady for the rest of his life.

In the early '90s, his popularity surged again when he was discovered by a younger audience. He appeared on MTV's popular series "Unplugged" and released an album from that performance, appeared at the network's award shows, and even had a music video in rotation on the channel.

Younger people loved Bennett, and he notably did not change his style in the least to gain that love.

As he told The Associated Press in 2006, "I enjoy entertaining the audience, making them forget their problems. I think people ... are touched if they hear something that’s sincere and honest and maybe has a little sense of humor. ... I just like to make people feel good when I perform."

In 2014, Bennett experienced yet another wave of popularity when he began collaborating with pop music superstar Lady Gaga. The two released an album of duets called "Cheek to Cheek," and they toured together throughout that year and the next. Gaga clearly adored Bennett, and he felt the same. They would collaborate frequently up until his final concert at Radio City Music Hall.

Throughout his career, he received 20 Grammy Awards and was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Besides his musical achievements, Bennett’s other accomplishments included helping to liberate a concentration camp in Germany during his service in World War II and joining in Dr. Martin Luther King’s historical Selma march in 1965, when he performed for protestors.

He also excelled in other artistic endeavors, having three paintings in the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection. As part of his dedication to the arts, he founded the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts, a public high school in his hometown in Queens, New York.

Bennett is survived by his wife Susan and four children – sons Danny and Dae with first wife Patricia Beech, and daughters Joanna and Antonia with second wife Sandra Grant. He had nine grandchildren.

Columbia 362990 - Tony Bennett - Cold, Cold, Heart

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