Mick the Ram
7 months ago

Mick the Ram
7 months ago

Legendary singer Tony Bennett dies aged 96

Tony Bennett regarded by many to have the greatest voice in the history of American music, sadly passed away in New York City on Friday July 21st just under two weeks short of what would have been his 97th birthday.

A cause of death was not given in a statement announced by his publicist, Sylvia Weiner, but his health had not been good since being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, a condition he went public with five years later.

The likes of Paul McCartney, Christine Aguilera, Lady Gaga, George Michael, Stevie Wonder, Michael Bublé, and Amy Winehouse all performed with the legendary singer, as well as the great Frank Sinatra who once described Bennett as “Simply the best singer in the business”.

Still at the piano in last days

In the statement left on his own Twitter account 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.”

Scarred by the memories of war

He was born August 3rd Anthony Dominick Benedetto, to a family of Italian immigrants. He became a singing waiter before enrolling to study music and painting at New York’s School of Industrial Art.

He fought in World War Two in France and Germany with the 63rd Infantry and was involved in the Battle of the Bulge, later describing the whole experience as having “a front-row seat in hell.”

Gift of “Hope”

In 1949, the famous TV entertainer Bob Hope was present as he sang in a Greenwich Village nightclub and invited him to tour with him, also advising him to change his name to Tony Bennett, from where he went from strength to strength.

Bennett was a supporter of the civil rights movement and took part in the 1965 Martin Luther King Selma to Montgomery marches, and also refused to perform in apartheid-era South Africa.

Awards and honours

He continued to entertain throughout a seven-decade and sold more than 50 million records worldwide. He won two Emmys and 19 Grammys, plus a lifetime achievement award. Shortly after his 90th birthday he said: “I could have retired 16 years ago, but I just love what I’m doing.”

Tributes

Tributes rolled in from a host of talent. Sir Elton John wrote how sad he was to hear the news, saying: “Without doubt the classiest singer, man, and performer you will ever see; he’s irreplaceable. I loved and adored him, my condolences to Susan, Danny and the family.”

Frank Sinatra’s eldest daughter Nancy called Bennett: “One of the most splendid people who ever lived. Kind, loving, talented and generous, he never let us down… Tony was a true champion.”

Carole King said: “RIP Tony Bennett. Such a big loss. Deepest sympathy to his family and the world.”

Billy Joel praised his energy and enthusiasm and spoke of his gratitude for his outstanding contribution to the art of contemporary music, describing Bennett as one of the most important interpreters of American popular song during the mid to late 20th Century. “He championed songwriters who might otherwise have remained unknown to many millions of music fans. His was a unique voice that made the transition from the era of Jazz into the age of Pop.” Before adding: “He was a joy to work with and also one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known.”

Former US first lady Hilary Clinton spoke of Bennett as a “true talent, a true gentleman, and a true friend.” Going on to say: “We’ll miss you, Tony, and thanks for all the memories.”

He was married three times. He was father to Danny and Dae with first wife, Patricia Beech and he and second wife, Sandra Grant had daughters Joanna and Antonia. He leaves the four children and 3rd wife Susan Benedetto; as well as a world of fans.

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