Tony Bennett, who passed away today at the age of 96, is being mourned by his followers.
One of Bennett’s greatest accomplishments was his ability to continue working and being relevant for almost to 70 years while continuously attracting new generations of fans.
By performing on MTV and working with younger performers, Bennett was able to appeal to young people without ever straying from the musical genre that first made him famous.
His most well-known team-up was with singer Lady Gaga. With her electronic-infused pop successes like “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” Gaga at first would have appeared like an unexpected duet partner, but the two went on to build a romantic connection that shaped Bennett’s later years.
During the early years of Tony Bennett’s career, when crooners, big bands, and American jazz standards ruled popular music, he was among the best performers of the day. He wrote songs like “Rags to Riches” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” He was well regarded by his coworkers, and Frank Sinatra once called him “the best singer in the business.”
Rock & roll, however, quickly eclipsed the music that initially made Bennett famous. He suffered throughout the 1970s; by the end of the decade, he had a deadly cocaine addiction and no management or recording contract. Bennett’s story was far from over.
Danny Bennett, Bennett’s son, took over as manager, and the pair made an effort to spark a comeback by appealing to younger audiences. Bennett would stick to his prior course of action and instead introduce the Great American Songbook to new listeners.
Bennett has appeared on chat shows including Late Night with David Letterman. He even appeared on MTV, where his Grammy-winning MTV Unplugged special attracted a lot of viewers and featured collaborations with musicians like Elvis Costello and k.d. lang.
The New York Times at the time stated that Tony Bennett “has not just bridged the generation gap, he has demolished it.” He successfully connected with a younger audience that was raised on rock. Furthermore, no concessions have been made.
On his platinum-selling Duets album, which was published in 2006, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Sting, and Bono were among the musicians who sang duets. John Legend and Michael Bublé.
However, Tony Bennett is most recognized for his collaboration with Lady Gaga. Despite having a 60-year age gap and obvious stylistic contrasts, they worked well together despite these obstacles.
At a gala concert in New York in 2011, the pop star caught Bennett’s attention by singing jazz standards; he afterwards paid her a high complement.
The first time Gaga and Tony Bennett met, she recalled: “I sang a couple jazz numbers that night, so I was real, real nervous to meet Tony Bennett — plus, I looked crazy.” “I had both blonde and black hair, and four noticeable velvet moles on my face. I sported crimson lipstick as well. I was improving myself. Mr. Bennett told me I was a jazz vocalist when we first met.
He was still in awe of her brilliance as they worked together on Bennett’s follow-up album, Duets II.
When she arrived, she was highly knowledgeable and well-prepared. “She’s as good as Ella Fitzgerald or anyone you can think of,” he said in 2012. She possesses enormous strength. If they only give her space to do her tasks, she might turn into America’s Picasso. I’m aware that sounds absurd. She have amazing talent.
They decided to collaborate on an album. The 2014 CD Cheek to Cheek, which won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, featured jazz greats and debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
While Gaga became the first woman in history to have three number one albums in the 2010s, Bennett became the oldest musician to ever have a number one album. Together, they went on tour and took part in a musical TV special. They became wonderful duet partners as a result of everything, as well as lovely friends.
Lady Gaga said, “I think something I was craving for myself was a truly authentic collaboration, a true artistic exchange,” in 2015. “With Tony, I discovered more than that; I discovered a buddy. We communicate a lot in addition to spending a lot of time together and doing music. Every aspect of the trip has been amazing.
Gaga claims that Bennett “saved” her from considering giving up music.
In 2014, she remarked that “six months ago I didn’t even want to sing anymore,” lamenting the fact that “so many people were taking advantage of my success.” I was depressed. Sleep was eluded me. I was lifeless. And after that, Tony and I talked for a while. He was only interested in my friendship and my voice.
She remarked, “I tell Tony every day that he saved my life.
After several years of working on separate projects, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga reunited for another collaboration, however it was considerably more somber this time.
In spite of receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2016, Bennett was still able to survive for a few more years. He reunited with Gaga for his farewell record and concert as the end drew closer.
Bennett and Gaga collaborated on a sold-out two-night concert spectacular at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall to celebrate Bennett’s 95th birthday. Bennett also announced his retirement from touring shortly after his penultimate performance, which was also his last.
Love for Sale, their second duets album, was released and contained only Cole Porter songs. When it was released in September 2021, it was again another success, charting in the top ten:
Bennett achieved the longest sequence of top-10 albums of any living musician and set a Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to release a new album.
For Album of the Year, Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, the album garnered Grammy nominations.
Bennett was unable to attend the ceremony, but Lady Gaga nevertheless gave two of the songs a live performance. She ended the show with a moving tribute to her friend and duet partner.: “I love you, Tony, and we miss you.”
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett may have initially seemed like an odd couple, but they ended up being a match made in heaven, providing Bennett with an incredible partner in the latter years of his career.
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