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Tony Bennett, Legendary Jazz Singer, Dead at 96

Tony Bennett, Legendary Jazz Singer, Dead at 96

<p>Tony Bennett, Legendary Jazz Singer, Dead at 96</p>

Bennett died two weeks shy of his birthday.


The renowned singer Tony Bennett died Friday. He was 96.

Bennett, known for his own solo hits along with duets with Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, and others, passed away in New York City, according to publicist Sylvia Weiner, the Associated Press reports.

Though no cause of death has been mentioned, Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease back in 2016. He was born on August 3, 1926.

“The last of the great saloon singers of the mid-20th century, Bennett often said his lifelong ambition was to create ‘a hit catalog rather than hit records.’ He released more than 70 albums, bringing him 19 competitive Grammys — all but two after he reached his 60s — and enjoyed deep and lasting affection from fans and fellow artists,” the AP notes.

One of this best-known songs “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was reportedly written by gay couple George Cory and Douglass Cross after the couple moved to New York City.

“It was pure nostalgia. We missed the warmth and openness of the people and the beauty. We never really took to New York,” Cory said.

Cross explained, 'New York is a hard, ruthless city. It lives on the edge of terror and catastrophe. New York is tired. San Francisco has newness and vitality.'

“I enjoy entertaining the audience, making them forget their problems,” Bennett told the AP in 2006. “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.”

Frank Sinatra once said in a Life magazine interview, “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.”

At 88, he became the oldest living performer with a number 1 album when he scored that achievement in 2014 with his duet album with Lady Gaga “Cheek to Cheek.”

In 1994, he appeared on “MTV Unplugged” with lesbian singer-songwriter k.d. lang and Elvis Costello. The album from the show, Tony Bennett: MTV Unplugged” won two Grammys, including Album of the Year.

Bennett, born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, grew up in Astoria in New York City during the Great Depression. He is survived by his wife Susan Benedetto, two daughters, two sons, and nine grandchildren.

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