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Tony Bennett Dies At 96

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett, an iconic pop vocalist who had a career spanning 8 decades has passed away at the age of 96.

Publicist Sylvia Weiner confirmed Bennett’s death to The Associated Press, saying he died in his hometown of New York. No cause of death was revealed but Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.

Bennett’s career seemed to be one of nothing but peaks, with no valleys, as he earned a Number 1 Album title at the age of 85. His friend and peer, Frank Sinatra called him the greatest popular singer in the world. Sinatra said in a 1965 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.”

The immense warmth, vocal clarity and emotional openness of Tony Bennett’s music connected with fans world-wide.  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.

Bennett would win Grammys for his tributes to female vocalists (“Here’s to the Ladies”), Billie Holiday (“Tony Bennett on Holiday”), and Duke Ellington (“Bennett Sings Ellington — Hot & Cool”). Tony Bennett was known for his iconic collaborations which won him additional grammys for songs like:  “Playin’ With My Friends — Bennett Sings the Blues,” and his Louis Armstrong tribute, “A Wonderful World” with lang, the first full album he had ever recorded with another singer.

Before finding fame, Tony Bennett studied commercial art in high school, but had to drop out to help support his family. A combat infantryman during World War II, he served as a librarian for the Armed Forces Network after the war and sang with an army big band in occupied Germany. His earliest recording is a 1946 air check from Armed Forces Radio of the blues “St. James Infirmary.”

In the former years of his life, Bennett’s passion and resilience in the music industry reached another high when he earned the title “Oldest Living Performer” by earning the Number 1 Album on the Billboard 100 chart for a song he created with mainstream pop artist Lady GaGa. Both Bennett and GaGa started the intimate show, which began with a two-night run at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, ultimately ended up becoming a 36 show tour across Europe and North America during the first half of 2015.