Tony Bennett, the internationally acclaimed singer whose voice epitomized the American Songbook, is dead.
The legendary New York pop and jazz singer known for songs such as The Way You Look Tonight, Body and Soul, and (I Left My Heart) In San Francisco died Friday morning in New York City.
Tony Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016 but put the sickness behind him and continued with some live performances and releasing new songs.
Bennett’s second duet album with Lady Gaga, Love For Sale, hit the Billboard Top 10 in 2021. He was 95 years old then. He also collaborated with Frank Sinatra, who called him “the best singer in the business”.
He retired that same year and celebrated it with two touching nights at Radio City Music Hall.
Tony Bennett sold millions of records and won 20 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award, during his eight decades career.
Elton John, who had worked with the crooner in the past, in a tribute said, “So sad to hear of Tony’s passing. Without doubt, the classiest singer, man, and performer you will ever see. “He’s irreplaceable. I loved and adored him.”
Bennett’s death was confirmed by his representative Sylvia Weiner, who said there was no specific cause of death.
Singer Paul Young wrote: “Ahhh, RIP Tony Bennett, truly one of the greats. An incredible singer live, saw him many times.”
Star Trek actor George Takei said he was the last of his kind, a master of the American songbook, Nile Rogers sent his condolence to his family and friends, while Hillary Clinton thanked him for all the memories, calling him a “true friend”.
Bennett started his music career as a suave crooner in the 1950s and quickly became one a top hit-maker. One of his popular songs then was “St. James Infirmary Blues,” which was made right after World War II with a U.S. Army band in Germany.
The release of his music; “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” in 1962, took his career to another level. The song became an international hit, stayed on the U.S. charts for almost a year, and won two Grammy Awards.
In 1994, he sang on MTV Unplugged, with k.d. lang making a cameo. The success of the show and album helped tee up Bennett’s next 20 years, putting his voice to the ears of a brand-new generation.
“I love life,” Tony Bennett told NPR in 2011. “I wish I could communicate to the whole planet what a gift it is to be alive.”