RIP: Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett, who was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, died today at the age of 96.  Mr. Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s since 2016.

Tony Bennett was an accomplished artist and singer.  At one point Mr. Bennett thought he might become a commercial artist.  For a while Tony Bennett attended New York’s School of Industrial Art where he studied painting and music.  At 16, he dropped out to help support his family.  Mr. Bennett had been singing at local restaurants since the age of 13, so he set his sights on a career in music.

In 1944, Mr. Bennett was drafted into the US Army.  After the war, he was working as a singing waiter, when Pearl Bailey made him her opening act.  Bob Hope heard Mr. Bennett at one of Pearl Bailey’s shows and offered to take him on the road as Hope’s opening act.  This is when Tony Bennett simplified his name.

Tony Bennett’s first #1 hit was Because of You.  It stayed at the top spot for ten weeks.  Mr. Bennett would go on to have a long a distinguished career.  Just last year Tony Bennett was nominated for 3 Grammy Awards (Record of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video)!  Over the course of his career Tony Bennett has been honored with…

  • 20 Grammy Awards (including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • induction in the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame
  • Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
  • Induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame
  • Kennedy Center Honoree
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Humanitarian Award
  • National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award
  • Induction into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame
  • American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award presented by John Lewis
  • Induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame
  • Guinness World Records for…
    – “oldest person to reach No.1 on the US Album Chart with a newly recorded album”, at the age of 88 years 69 days, for Cheek to Cheek
    – “the longest time between the release of an original recording and a re-recording of the same single by the same artist” for re-recording “Fascinating Rhythm” 68 years and 342 days after the original recording.
    – being the oldest person to release an album of new material at the age of 95 years and 60 days.
    – being the second-oldest person to win a Grammy Award, when he shared the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Grammy with Lady Gaga for Love for Sale, aged 95 years, 8 months, and 1 day.

What a long and distinguished career Tony Bennett had.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tony Bennett’s family, friends and fans.