Tony Bennett Dies: ‘The Best Singer in the Business’ – How His Idol Frank Sinatra’s Words Changed His Career Entertainment & Arts News

“In my opinion, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business.”

Frank Sinatra couldn’t have said better of him when he was interviewed in 1965.

Sinatra had a huge impact on Bennett, he Died at 96.

The two have become close friends, performing together several times over the years.

Bennett was the younger singer – Sinatra died in May 1998 at the age of 82.

But as they both matured, Sinatra always continued to refer to Bennett as “the kid” — even into his later years.

Bennett says what his idol said in the 1965 essay changed his career.

Two years ago, the then 36-year-old Bennett won his first grammy His signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

In 2022, almost 60 years later, the pop-jazz singer will receive his 20th award, sharing the honor with his superstar collaborators Lady Gaga – 95 years old.

Bennett performing with Lady Gaga
Bennett performing with Lady Gaga

During an eight-year entertainment career, One of the last great American singers, Bennett achieved rare success and seemed to grow in popularity only in his later years.

With over 70 albums to his credit, he is perhaps the only artist of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s to release a new album in the US. In 2014, he broke his own record as the oldest living artist to top the weekly Billboard 200 album chart.

Even after being diagnosed with the disease, he is still doing well in his 90s Alzheimer’s disease Bennett, who fell ill in 2016, is an entertainer beloved by generations; Gaga is just one of the modern artists he has collaborated with in his later years.

Paul McCartney, John Legend, Christina Aguilera and Michael Buble, and Sinatra are among the list of other singers whose 2011 duet with Amy Winehouse, “Body And Soul,” was recorded before her death last song.

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

The phrase that made him famous and is the title of a memoir he used again in 2021 when he spoke publicly about his illness.

In February 2021, he shared the message on his social media accounts: “Life is a gift, even with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Later that year, he performed his final farewell performance.

Singer Tony Bennett performs at the Clinton Global Citizenship Awards at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting on September 27, 2015 in New York.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Grief, War and Discovery

Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, in Queens, New York City, to John and Anna. Young Tony and older siblings John and Mary were raised by their mother after their father died when he was 10 years old.

As a child, he enjoyed singing and drawing, a passion he developed at Manhattan High School of Industrial Arts.

As he grew older, he developed an interest in music, listening to artists such as Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and James ‘Jimmy’ Durante on the radio.

As a teenager, Bennett sang as a waiter and later enlisted in the Army during World War II.

He fought in the Battle of the Bulge – Germany’s last major offensive on the Western Front, launched in 1944 through the Ardennes Forest region between Belgium and Luxembourg – and was involved in the liberation of a concentration camp, according to his official website biography.

While in Europe, he performed with a military band, and upon his return to the United States, he continued his vocal studies at the American Theater Wing School in New York.

The singer made his nightclub debut with trombonist Tyree Glenn in 1946 at the Shangri-La hotel near Astoria, Queens.

His big break came three years later when comedian Bob Hope noticed him teaming up with actor-singer Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village.

At the time, he was performing under the stage name Joe Bari.

Singer and artist Tony Bennett poses for photos ahead of the opening of an art exhibition in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2017.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

“We call you Tony Bennett”

Hope liked Bennett’s singing so much that he later met him in the dressing room and invited him to perform with him at the city’s famed Paramount Theatre.

There is only one condition.

“But first he told me he didn’t care about my stage name, and asked what my real name was,” recalls Bennett. “I told him, ‘My name is Anthony Dominique Benedetto’. He said, ‘We call you Tony Bennett’.”

“That’s how it happened. A new Americanized name – the beginning of a good career and glorious adventure.”

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

Dozens of singles followed, and his voice has taken him around the world, selling millions of records, performing in sold-out venues, and performing for celebrities and presidents.

He released dozens of albums in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, but as his style of music fell out of fashion, he began to battle drug use.

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, an unlikely MTV darling.

Singer Tony Bennett singing on June 23, 1960. Photo: AP
Image: Associated Press

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People pay tribute to Tony Bennett’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

Legendary duet extends his life

In 2001, the septuagenarian received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys – but he shows no signs of slowing down.

Known for his collaborations, his first album of modern duets, Duets: American Classics, was released in 2006 and included performances with such artists as McCartney, Elton John, Barbra Streisand and Bono.

After more than 50 years in the business, the record has become one of the best-selling records of his career.

Ella Fitzgerald singing with Tony Bennett in 1990. Photo: AP
Image: Associated Press

Duets II launched in 2011 with participating artists including aretha franklin and John Mayer, and Gaga and Winehouse.

The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and went on to win two Grammys, while his friendship with Gaga led to the release of their first collaborative album, Cheek To Cheek, in 2014.

Their second album, Love For Sale, will be Bennett’s last and will be released in 2021.

In addition to his music, Bennett is also known for his paintings and has exhibited his work in galleries around the world.

He was even commissioned by the United Nations to paint a piece for 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 (2012) and Just Getting Started (2016).

Ray Charles (left) and Tony Bennett photographed at Larabee Studios in Los Angeles. April 1986 Photo: Associated Press
Image: Associated Press

Family and Charitable Legacy

Bennett is a father of four and has been married three times.

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

Bennett later married actress Sandra Grant, with whom he has daughters Joanna and Antonia, and married longtime partner Susan Crowe (now Susan Benedetto) in 2007.

In 1999, he co-founded the Discovery Arts Project with Susan to help strengthen the role of the arts in American public high school education.

One of the group’s first projects was the establishment of the Frank Sinatra Art Institute, a public high school that opened in 2001 in Bennett’s hometown of Astoria, Queens.

Tony Bennett accepts the Century Award at the Billboard Music Awards with Stevie Wonder in 2006

The singer’s other philanthropic endeavors include helping raise millions for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, which has a research fund in his honor, and lending his artwork to the American Cancer Society’s annual holiday card to raise money.

In addition to receiving numerous honors for her music, Bennett received the Martin Luther King Jr. Center’s “Salute to Greatness” award for her efforts to fight racial discrimination during the civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

Singer Tony Bennett poses for photographers Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album "Playin' and my friends: Bennett sings the blues," On February 23, 2003, the 45th Grammy Awards ceremony was held at Madison Square Garden in New York.  REUTERS/Peter Morgan MS/HB

The singer announced his retirement from performing in 2021, which his son and manager Danny said was based on doctor’s orders due to travel constraints.

In 2022, Gaga performed a medley at the Grammys, a tribute to the man she described as an “incredible mentor, friend and father figure,” and looked emotional as she wrapped up her performance on stage. “I love you Tony. We miss you.”

Following the singer’s death, the music world mourned the last great performer of his generation.

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

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