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Singer Tony Bennett has died


Tony Bennett in 2010 Associated Press/Photo by Carolyn Kaster, file

Singer Tony Bennett has died

American jazz, show tunes, and big band singer Tony Bennett has died at age 96. Bennett was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in the Queens borough of New York City in 1926. He grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II, a horrifying experience that inspired his lifelong pacifism. The GI Bill later paid for his study of bel canto vocal techniques. Bennett began singing in clubs, where he was discovered by Pearl Bailey and Bob Hope, who gave him the stage moniker “Tony Bennett.” Bennett signed with Columbia Records in 1950 and catapulted to fame with hits like “Because of You” and “Blue Velvet.”

How did his career develop? When rock and roll swept the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, Bennett fell on hard times. His reluctant attempts to break into the pop music scene largely failed, resulting in massive financial losses. Two of his marriages dissolved, and Bennett sought solace in a cocaine addiction that nearly killed him. His resurgence in popularity began in the 1990s. He appeared on MTV and late-night television, reviving traditional American music standards and singing classic duets with celebrities like Lady Gaga, John Mayer, and Sting. Bennett performed, recorded, and toured into his 90s, even after his 2016 diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his third wife, Susan, and his four children.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read Arsenio Orteza’s review of one of Bennett’s collaborative albums.


Andrew Shaughnessy Andrew is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former correspondent for WORLD.


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