R.I.P. Tony Bennett

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Tony Bennett

Legendary crooner Tony Bennett has died, according to a confirmed report from his publicist. No cause of death was given, but Bennett had been living with Alzheimer’s for seven years. He was 96.

A massively successful recording artist for more than 70 years, Bennett has sold more than 50 million records worldwide, and has earned 20 Grammy awards. The son of Italian immigrants, Bennett was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Queens, New York. After serving in the Army during World War II, he began singing in nightclubs, eventually being discovered by Bob Hope, who dubbed him Tony “Bennett.” His first hit was 1951’s “Because of You.”

Bennett toured for most of his life and released around 70 studio albums during his lifetime, working with jazz artists such as Count Basie and Bill Evans, and later recording with k.d. lang and, more than a decade after that, Lady Gaga. He got a late-career boost in 1994 at age 68 when he appeared on MTV’s Unplugged. Among some of his other duets were songs recorded with Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Amy Winehouse on what was her final recording.

Bennett is also a Kennedy Center Honoree, a United Nations’ Citizen of the World award recipient, and an NEA Jazz Master. He founded the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York, and his paintings appear in the Smithsonian. In 2021, he performed at his 95th birthday celebration, along with Lady Gaga, at Radio City Music Hall. That same month, his family announced he was retiring from performing.

Photo by Andy Witchger/Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

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