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15 June, 2024
 
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Farewell to an icon: Legendary singer Tony Bennett passes away at 96

Renowned for his timeless voice and beloved hits, Tony Bennett leaves a lasting musical legacy

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Renowned performer Tony Bennett, known for his unique interpretations of the "Great American Songbook," passed away on Friday at the age of 96. Journalist Sylvia Wanier confirmed the news to The Associated Press. While the specific cause of death has not been disclosed, it is known that Bennett had been battling Alzheimer's since 2016.

Throughout his illustrious 70-year career, Bennett aimed to create a lasting legacy of hit songs, rather than just successful records. He released over 70 albums, securing an impressive 19 Grammy Awards, and earning the admiration of both global music audiences and the industry at large.

Frank Sinatra once called Bennett the best singer in the world, expressing how moved he was by Bennett's performances. Born Anthony Benedetto to Italian immigrants, Bennett dedicated his career to performing songs from the "Great American Songbook," including compositions by Cole Porter, Oscar Hammerstein, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and many others.

His breakthrough hit came in 1951 with "Because of You," followed by a string of successes throughout the decade with songs like "Blue Velvet" and "Rags to Riches." The latter was memorably featured in the opening credits of Martin Scorsese's 1990 film "Goodfellas."

However, the late 1960s brought personal challenges, including the end of his second marriage, bankruptcy, and severe drug addiction. In 1969, under pressure from Columbia Records' new president, Clive Davis, Bennett recorded versions of contemporary songs, which turned out to be a musical misstep and a decision he regretted for life.

The turning point in Bennett's life came when he hired his son Danny as his manager. Returning to New York and reuniting with pianist and musical director Ralph Sharon, Bennett's 1986 album "The Art of Excellence" marked a triumphant comeback.

In 2014, at the remarkable age of 88, Bennett set a record as the oldest living performer with a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, "Cheek to Cheek," a collaboration with Lady Gaga. Three years earlier, his album "Duets II" topped the charts, featuring collaborations with contemporary stars like Gaga, Carrie Underwood, and Amy Winehouse.

[Information from Kathimerini.gr]

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