A singing legend. With a masterful career, many fans of the pop and jazz crooner might be wondering how did Tony Bennett die.
The singer left a larger than life legacy with his renditions from The American songbook and hits like “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” and “Rags to Riches” and his cover of “Stranger In Paradise.” Born and raised in Queens, New York, Bennett won 20 Grammys including a Lifetime Achievement award. His duets with Aretha Franklin and Lady Gaga achieved worldwide acclaim and his two albums with the latter debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
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So how did Tony Bennett die? Read more below.
How did Tony Bennett die?
How did Tony Bennett die? Tony Bennett died on July 21, 2023. No cause of death was announced but the singer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016.
“Tony Bennett, born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Astoria, Queens on August 3, 1926, has passed away in his hometown of New York City at the age of 96 earlier today,” his publicist Sylvia Weiner told multiple publications like USA Today and People. “The beloved singer, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016, is survived by his wife, Susan Benedetto, his two sons, Danny and Dae Bennett, his daughters Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett and 9 grandchildren.”
His family revealed that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in an AARP article. “He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do. He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder,” his neurologist Gayatri Devi told the site. According to Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a gradual decline in memory, thinking, behavior and social skills.
His wife Susan assured that he was in good spirits.”But that’s because he already didn’t understand,” she told AARP. “He would ask me, ‘What is Alzheimer’s?’ I would explain, but he wouldn’t get it.”
“He’d tell me, ‘Susan, I feel fine.’ That’s all he could process — that physically he felt great,” Benedetto said. “So, nothing changed in his life. Anything that did change, he wasn’t aware of.”
Despite the diagnosis, Bennett continued to perform late into his career with none other than longtime collaborator and friend Lady Gaga. In 2021, the duo kicked off their shows at Radio City Music Hall to promote their album Love For Sale. It was one of Bennett’s last public performances before his death.
“It’s hard to even talk about,” Gaga says about her friend’s diagnosis. But “it’s important during times like this to be authentic and share the pain of the realities of what it’s like to have a loved one have Alzheimer’s or dementia. I really extend my heart to people who are going through a similar situation.”
Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born to Italian immigrant parents in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens, New York City. He professed his love for singing as a child and his mother helped him foster his craft. He attended New York’s School of Industrial Art (now known as the High School of Art and Design), where he studied music and painting, but dropped out to help his family.
He was drafted in 1944 during World War II and helped liberate a concentration camp near Landsberg, Germany. After the war, he sand with the Armed Forces band. He later studied with Miriam Spier in the American Theatre Wing, and was later signed to Columbia Records where he would release the single “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” and : “Rags to Riches” in 1953; “Stranger in Paradise.” His biggest breakthrough, however, was “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
Throughout the years, he was lauded by his peers and even his inspirations. “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business,” Frank Sinatra told Life magazine in 1965. “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.”
Bennett also participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march in 1964, having sung with stars like Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr. and others. He later left Columbia Records after quarrels of recording rock songs. The singer had multiple stints of performing in Las Vegas and had formed his own company in the 1970s, Improv Records where he would perform with Bill Evans.
He continued to perform and eventually returned to Columbia Records in 1985 and saw a career revival. In 1993 he presented, along with two members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, at MTV’s Video Music Awards. He dueted on the standard “Body and Soul” with Amy Winehouse, and released Duets, which catapulted him to legendary status.
In 2017, Bennett was honored with The Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song along with two Primetime Emmy Awards. He was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2005 and a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2006.
Bennett talked about his love for performing and that age wasn’t going to stop him. “I think being my age, staying in top shape is a first. Usually people are still respected if they show up at 90, but they say, ‘He’s not like he used to be’ and all that. And it’s not happening with me,” Bennett said. “I still have a lot of energy when I hit the stage and I feel blessed about the fact that I’m still going strong. We were always sold out wherever we played throughout my whole career, and it’s a blessing to still have that happen at 90.”
In an interview with USA Today, Lady Gaga talked about her favorite moments with Bennett and the thrill and privilege of performing with him. “My favorite moment was right after I was done singing, Tony went on stage and the curtain lifted up to reveal him. I planned that reveal for hours and hours and hours. And when he opened his mouth to sing “The Best Is Yet to Come” with that spotlight on him, I just burst into tears with joy. For me, that was an absolute privilege to be a part of. I just wanted everything to be perfect for him during his last moments on stage.”
The renowned recording artist Tony Bennett shares a half-century of personal memories, from his childhood in Depression-era Queens to the New York jazz scene of the 1940s, to his successes with a new generation of fans in the 1990s.
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