There are few musicians as legendary as Tony Bennett. The jazz singer has spent more than 70 years in show business and performed with stars such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald over the years.

However, age has taken its toll. In 2021, Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and is now getting the best treatment possible.

Even so, the love of music hasn’t stopped where Tony is concerned. Now, news about ‘two last performances’ with Lady Gaga has been confirmed. We’d simply love to see him perform one final time.

Tony Bennett, 96, wasn’t born a superstar. In fact, the first few years of his life were pretty harsh.

Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto on August 3, 1926, in Queens, New York, Bennett’s parents had just made it through the Great Depression. When Tony was only 10 years of age, his father passed away, and his mother was left to raise three children on her own.

“She worked so hard, she made dresses and she taught me the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned,” Bennett told Nobhill Gazette.

“She said, ‘Don’t ever have me work on a bad dress. If it’s a good dress, I’ll work on it and make sure it comes out right.’ So, I applied that theory to music and never made a bad song. Every song is a worthwhile song to sing.”

As a young kid, Bennett adored Louis Armstrong, describing him as “the King”. He went to the High School of Industrial Arts in New York City, but eventually dropped out. Instead, Bennett started working as a waiter to help the family with their income. As it turns out, that was probably the best thing that ever happened to him.

Tony started singing at the Italian restaurant where he worked in his home town of Astoria, New York, all while serving food to the guests. It’s not the typical career path for someone we know today as one of the most legendary voices ever. But for Tony, it was perfect.

“I loved that time of my life, and I honestly feel that, if I hadn’t made it professionally, I would be perfectly happy going back to being a singing waiter,” Bennett recalled.

“It was a great training ground, as I learned so many songs from the cooks in the kitchen when we would get requests where we didn’t know the song or all the lyrics. And it also strengthened the love that I have performing for the public, which was first inspired by my Italian-American family.

“We would gather at our house every Sunday, have a big meal and then, afterwards, the family would sit in a circle and my brother, sister and I would entertain them,” he added.

“It was during that time that I realized that I loved performing and making people happy. So, whether it’s in a restaurant or a concert stage, it makes no difference — I just like to entertain people.”

Tony Bennett served in the Army infantry during World War II. Once back in the US, he started pursuing his big passion in life; music.

He went on to study singing at the American Theatre Wing. There, Bennett was coached by Mimi Spear, a person who became essential for his major success.

She told me: ‘Don’t imitate other singers; imitate musicians’,” Bennett recalled.

“That’s the same thing that Billie Holiday said in her book, that she imitated Louis Armstrong. I imitated (jazz pianist) Art Tatum. He held on to the basic melody like a rock, but his chords and sense of accompaniment were astounding.”

By this point, Tony was starting to perform more and more, now under the name Joe Bari. In 1949, he was finally discovered and picked up by the legendary singer, comedian and performer, Bob Hope.

Tony Bennett – ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’
He decided “Joe Bari” wasn’t a great name. Instead, it was at that point Hope suggested “Tony Bennett”. Ever since that day, it’s been his name.

Bob Hope loved what he saw in Tony, and went on to give him his own road show. As Bennett told Billboard in 1997: “I’ve been on the road ever since.”

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By Admin