Anthony Dominick Benedetto, known professionally as Tony Bennett, was born on August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, New York City, to Italian-American parents. He grew up in a working-class family, and from a young age, he showed a passion for art and music. In his early teens, Tony Bennett began performing as a singing waiter.
He later served as an infantryman during World War II, having been drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944. While in the military, Bennett continued to sing and even performed for fellow troops, which helped solidify his love for music. After the war, Tony Bennett’s singing career gained traction in the early 1950s. He was discovered by Bob Hope, who saw potential in his voice and suggested he change his stage name to Tony Bennett. His first big hit came in 1951 with “Because of You,” which reached the top of the charts.
“Because of You” is a popular song written by Arthur Hammerstein and Dudley Wilkinson in 1940. It was first recorded by Larry Clinton and His Orchestra on December 12, 1940, and was released on March 28, 1941, on Bluebird 11094. The 1951 recording by Tony Bennett, Columbia Records catalog number 39362, recorded on April 4, 1951, with orchestral backing conducted by Percy Faith, was Bennett’s first major hit, reaching number one on the Billboard charts and staying there for 10 weeks.
He continued to release successful singles throughout the decade, earning recognition for his smooth, mellow voice and heartfelt delivery. During the 1960s, Bennett’s music shifted towards a more jazz-oriented style, and he collaborated with renowned jazz musicians, including Count Basie and Stan Getz.
I love to paint as much as I love to sing. It worked out to be such a blessing in my life because if I started getting burnt-out singing … I would go to my painting and that’s a big lift. … So I stay in this creative zone all the time.Tony Bennett
From his album “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (1962), the title track became one of his signature songs and solidified his status as a prominent jazz and traditional pop singer. Tony Bennett’s career spanned several decades, and he continued to release albums and perform concerts worldwide.
Here is a List of Some of His Best Tunes
- “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (1962) – Songwriters: Douglass Cross and George Cory
- “Fly Me to the Moon” (1965) – Songwriter: Bart Howard
- “The Way You Look Tonight” (1964) – Songwriters: Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern
- “Smile” (1959) – Songwriters: Charlie Chaplin, John Turner, and Geoffrey Parsons
- “Rags to Riches” (1953) – Songwriters: Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
- “Stranger in Paradise” (1953) – Songwriters: Robert Wright and George Forrest
- “Because of You” (1951) – Songwriters: Arthur Hammerstein and Dudley Wilkinson
- “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” (1993) – Songwriter: Irving Berlin
- “The Best Is Yet to Come” (1962) – Songwriters: Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh
- “For Once in My Life” (1967) – Songwriters: Ron Miller and Orlando Murden
- “Blue Velvet” (1951) – Songwriters: Lee Morris and Bernie Wayne
- “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” (1997) – Songwriters: Duke Ellington and Irving Mills
- “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” (1964) – Songwriters: Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
- “The Good Life” (1962) – Songwriters: Sacha Distel and Jack Reardon
- “Body and Soul” (1951) – Songwriters: Johnny Green, Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, and Frank Eyton
- “I Wanna Be Around” (1963) – Songwriters: Johnny Mercer and Sadie Vimmerstedt
- “Just in Time” (1962) – Songwriters: Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green
- “When Joanna Loved Me” (1964) – Songwriters: Robert Wells and Jack Segal
- “As Time Goes By” (1972) – Songwriter: Herman Hupfeld
- “Shadow of Your Smile” (1965) – Songwriters: Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster
From the 1990s until 2023, he experienced a significant resurgence in popularity, collaborating with contemporary artists like K.D. Lang and Lady Gaga. These collaborations introduced him to a younger generation of fans and earned him renewed critical acclaim. Tony Bennett’s contributions to music have been recognized with numerous awards and accolades over the years. Some of the most notable ones include:
- 20 Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album awards for his albums “MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett” (1995) and “Duets: An American Classic” (2006).
- Induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame for several of his classic recordings.
- A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of his contributions to the entertainment industry.
- The Kennedy Center Honor in 2005 for his lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.
- The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship in 2006, one of the highest honors in jazz music.
Tony Bennett died Friday, July 21, 2023. He was 96, just two weeks short of his birthday. Publicist Sylvia Weiner confirmed Bennett’s death to The Associated Press, saying he died in his hometown of New York. There was no specific cause, but Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. He is survived by his wife Susan, daughters Johanna and Antonia, sons Danny and Dae, and nine grandchildren.
- Tony Bennett
- “Tony Bennett, masterful stylist of American musical standards, dies at 96” (July 21, 2023) https://apnews.com/article/tony-bennett-dies-c3b3a7e2360449fb936a38794c7c3266
- “Tony Bennett” (updated July 21, 2023) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Bennett
- “Tony Bennett.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television. Accessed on July 21, 2023 https://www.biography.com/musicians/tony-bennett
- “Tony Bennett Biography.” The Kennedy Center. Accessed on July 21, 2023. https://www.kennedy-center.org/artists/b/ba-bn/tony-bennett/
- “Tony Bennett Biography.” AllMusic. Accessed on July 21, 2023. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/tony-bennett-mn0000006334/biography
- “Tony Bennett – Awards.” IMDb. Accessed on July 21, 2023. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004746/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
- “Tony Bennett.” Grammy Awards. Accessed on July 21, 2023. https://www.grammy.com/artists/tony-bennett/1073