Iconic standards singer Tony Bennett passed away at the age of 96, as announced by his publicist, Sylvia Weiner. The legendary musician died in his hometown of New York, though the specific cause of his passing was not immediately disclosed.
Throughout his illustrious career, Tony Bennett’s enchanting voice became synonymous with romantic evenings and timeless classics. He defied the changing tides of the music industry, staying relevant even as rock and rap gained popularity.
In his later years, while continuing to captivate new audiences with his velvety vocals, Bennett privately faced the challenges of a cognitive disorder. His family revealed in 2021 that he had been battling Alzheimer’s for five years, yet he remarkably continued to record music despite the condition.
Tony Bennett’s life story, encompassing his service as a World War II veteran and his involvement in civil rights activism, could inspire numerous biopics. However, his enduring legacy will undoubtedly be his unmatched vocal style, propelling him to stardom in the 1950s and experiencing a remarkable resurgence in the last quarter-century of his life.
Close friend and frequent collaborator, Lady Gaga, emphasized the importance of preserving and appreciating timeless music from the Great American Songbook, acknowledging Tony Bennett as one of its torchbearers.
Born as Anthony Bennedetto on August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, Bennett’s musical journey began after studying singing at the American Theatre Wing. It was legendary singer Pearl Bailey who discovered him and invited him to open for her in 1949.
From there, Bennett’s career took off, signing with Columbia Records and charming audiences with hits like “Rags to Riches” and “Because of You.” However, it was his iconic song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” released in 1962 as a B-side, that catapulted him to superstardom.
His music effortlessly bridged the gap between pop and jazz, earning him critical acclaim and recognition. He won the prestigious Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Solo Vocal Performance in 1962, just the beginning of his incredible collection of 18 Grammy Awards amassed over his seven-decade career.