Tony Bennett, King of the American Songbook, dead at 96

Tony Bennett, King of the American Songbook, dead at 96. Tony Bennett: The Legendary Voice of the American Songbook. Statement from President Joe Biden on the Passing of Tony Bennett.

For more than 70 years, Tony Bennett didn’t just sing the classics – he himself was an American classic.


Tony Bennett, the internationally famous singer renowned for his velvety voice that epitomized the American Songbook, has passed away at the age of 96.

His death, reported on Friday morning in New York City, marks the end of an era for the music industry and leaves behind a legacy that will forever be cherished.

Despite battling Alzheimer’s disease since 2016, Bennett continued to captivate audiences with occasional live performances and new music releases.

In 2021, he achieved a remarkable feat by reaching the Billboard Top 10 at the age of 95 with his second duet album, “Love For Sale,” alongside Lady Gaga.

Bennett’s musical journey was a remarkable one, marked by immense success and a profound impact on the world of music.

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About Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett is an iconic American singer known for his timeless contributions to the world of music. Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto on August 3, 1926, in Queens, New York, he rose to fame during the post-war era with his unique vocal style and charming stage presence.

Bennett’s career took off in the 1950s with hits like “Because of You” and “Rags to Riches,” which established him as a prominent pop and jazz vocalist.

He became renowned for his interpretative abilities, delivering heartfelt renditions of classic standards and popular songs. One of his most famous songs, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” released in 1962, has become synonymous with the city and remains an enduring classic.

Throughout the decades, Tony Bennett has consistently showcased his vocal talents, collaborating with various artists and releasing numerous successful albums.

His artistry has earned him multiple Grammy Awards and a dedicated fan base. Notably, he has worked with contemporary artists, such as Lady Gaga, with whom he released a collaborative album titled “Cheek to Cheek” in 2014, blending his timeless style with modern influences.

Beyond music, Tony Bennett is also celebrated for his humanitarian efforts and contributions to the arts. He has been an advocate for education and arts funding, establishing the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York City.

As a living legend, Tony Bennett’s enduring presence in the music industry continues to inspire generations of musicians and fans alike. His remarkable career and artistic contributions have solidified his legacy as one of the greatest entertainers of all time.

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Born as Anthony Dominick Benedetto in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, Bennett faced hardships early in life after losing his father at the age of 10. Determined to support his family, he quit high school and took up various odd jobs.

However, it was his job as a singing waiter in Astoria that sparked his passion for music. Bennett once expressed, “If I have to do this the rest of my life, I’d be happy doing that.”

Music was an integral part of his family heritage, and his father’s love for opera in their native Italy left a lasting impression on him.

From Crooner to Jazz Enthusiast

Bennett’s career officially began when he cut his first sides at the young age of 20, including the song “St. James Infirmary Blues,” recorded with a U.S. Army band in Germany just after World War II.

Bob Hope was responsible for giving him the stage name “Tony Bennett,” under which he signed with Columbia Records in 1950. The following decade saw Bennett rise to stardom, becoming one of the era’s most popular hit-makers.

Though known as a crooner, Bennett had a deep love for jazz, which he successfully incorporated into his pop music, earning the admiration of jazz legends like Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.

The Signature Song: “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”

In 1962, Bennett’s career took a momentous turn with the accidental discovery of the sheet music for “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” by his accompanist and arranger, Ralph Sharon.

The song became Bennett’s signature piece and a global sensation, spending nearly a year on the U.S. charts and winning him two Grammy Awards. Throughout his career, Bennett remained committed to performing for social causes, such as civil rights, standing up for justice and equality.

Legacy of Collaboration and Influence

As a true musical icon, Bennett’s influence spanned across generations. He recorded memorable duets with an array of artists, from Stevie Wonder to Lady Gaga, the latter of whom became one of his closest collaborators and an ambassador to a new wave of fans.

Bennett’s success extended well into the modern era, thanks to his MTV Unplugged appearance in 1994, which connected him with a new audience and rejuvenated his career.

The Gift of Life and Passion

Tony Bennett‘s enduring career and unwavering passion for music were always evident in his performances. Music was not just his profession; it was his life.

In a 2011 interview with NPR, he expressed his love for life and the desire to communicate to the world the precious gift of being alive. This zeal for life allowed him to pursue multiple passions, including painting landscapes and portraits under the name “Antonio Benedetto.”


Tony Bennett’s passing marks the end of an era in the music industry. He leaves behind a legacy of remarkable achievements, timeless music, and an iconic voice that touched the hearts of millions worldwide.

From his early days as a crooner to his later exploration of jazz and duets with contemporary artists, Bennett’s impact on the American Songbook and the music industry as a whole will never be forgotten.

His journey is a testament to the power of passion, dedication, and the ability to leave an indelible mark on the world.


1. What were Tony Bennett’s greatest musical achievements?

Throughout his career, Tony Bennett achieved numerous musical milestones. One of his most significant accomplishments was the international success of his signature song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” which won him two Grammy Awards and became an enduring classic. Additionally, his duet album with Lady Gaga, “Love For Sale,” reached the Billboard Top 10 when Bennett was 95 years old, making him the oldest artist to achieve such a feat.

2. How did Tony Bennett influence the music industry?

Tony Bennett’s influence on the music industry was immense. He not only captured the hearts of his generation with his smooth vocals and captivating performances but also bridged the gap between traditional pop and jazz music. His collaborations with various artists from different genres, including Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder, introduced his timeless music to new audiences, ensuring his legacy lives on.

3. How did Tony Bennett contribute to social causes?

Tony Bennett was not only a talented musician but also a dedicated advocate for social causes. During the civil rights movement, he lent his voice and performed in support of equal rights and justice. Notably, he joined Harry Belafonte in Montgomery, Alabama, after the “Bloody Sunday” incident to perform and show solidarity with the protesters.

4. Did Tony Bennett pursue any other passions besides music?

Yes, Tony Bennett had a passion for painting. Under the name “Antonio Benedetto,” he created beautiful landscapes and portraits. His artistic talents further showcased his versatility and creativity beyond the realm of music.

5. How will Tony Bennett be remembered?

Tony Bennett will be remembered as a legendary singer with a voice that defined the American Songbook. His dedication to music, timeless performances, and contributions to social causes have left an indelible mark on the hearts of his fans and the music industry. His legacy will continue to inspire and influence generations to come.