Legendary crooner Tony Bennett, 95, announced his retirement from the stage following two concerts with Lady Gaga, at Radio City Music Hall, New York, on August 3 and 5. Bennett and Lady Gaga released in 2014 the album Cheek To Cheek. About her bond with the crooner, Gaga defined it conclusively: “He saved my life.”
The news of Tony Bennett’s retirement did not surprise the world of showbusiness; Last March, his wife Susan Crow said that the singer suffered from progressive Alzheimer’s, which leads to memory loss and is treated as a form of senile dementia that prevented him from connecting with reality.
“He does not know that we are in a pandemic, for example, “said his partner who carefully built in their home, the 15th floor of a skyscraper at the southern end of Central Park, a three-bedroom glass box with windows where the sun spreads freely and New York At his feet. Bennett once defined his home as “any painter’s dream.”
Tony Bennett with his dogs. Instagram photo
The announcement of his Alzheimer’s
His wife sought with the advertisement to help break that stigma that persecutes mental illness and in which we could include cancer. Bennett suffers, perhaps it is not the right word since he is not aware of what he suffers, of this incurable, unpredictable disease that places the patient in a position of enormous fragility. There had already been clear signals during the recording of the album with Lady Gaga and her terse interventions throughout the album’s dissemination work.
Despite the disease, diagnosed in 2016, Bennett has shown in recent years a powerful energy; after his album with Lady Gaga, he released The Silver Linings, with the music of composer Jerome Kern, in 2016 and Love Is Here To Stay with pianist and singer Diana Krall, in 2018.
An artistic career that began lukewarm in 1936, with only ten years and ends in 2021, with 95, a whole record that was reflected in a significant number of great record works, such as his two albums with the Count Basie orchestra, in the fifties, or those two beautiful albums in a duet with the pianist Bill Evans in the 1970s.
Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Crow, 40 years his junior. She told of the Alzheimer’s disease that the singer suffers from.
A magnificent career
Tony Bennett has more than 70 record works, just over 50 million records sold, some of them like I Left My Heart in San Francisco (1962), MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett (1994) the Duets, An American Classic (2006) absolute sales records and 19 Grammy Awards.
His first record, Because of You, in 1951, showed a talented young man with a splendid voice, with a jazzy bent and a profile clearly of crooner.
Anthony Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, in Queens, New York, the son of an Italian-American family. came to participate as an infantryman in World War II, in Europe. He grew up amid the poverty of a country hit by the severe economic depression of 1929.
But in his environment there was music; listened to Al Jonson, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and jazz artists like Louis Armstrong or his countryman, Joe Venutti. At ten he was already singing with his uncle, Dick, a tap dancer, but he was not only attracted to singing, but also to drawing, in which he looked like a cartoonist as a child.
He studied music and painting at the School of Industrial Art in New York, which he left at 16 to work and be able to help his family financially; At 18, in 1944, at the end of World War II, he enlisted as an infantry rifleman and after his transfer to France participated in Germany in the last attacks against Nazism, an experience that he defined as a “front row seat in hell.”
Again in new york
He returned to New York in 1946 where, with jazz at its best, he learned the bel canto technique and studied the style and phrasing of two great improvisers, the saxophonist Stan Getz and the pianist Art Tatum. In 1949, Bob Hope discovered him at a club in Greenwich Village, took him on tour, and shortened his name to Tony Bennett.
After the success of Because of You, which spent ten weeks among the ten best-selling albums and surpassed one million copies sold, Bennett focused on developing a very commercially oriented career. In 1952, Cold, Cold Heart Y Blue Velvet were important successes and that led him to appear at the Paramount Theater, New York, up to seven times a day, su first show was at 10:30 in the morning.
Tony Bennett. At his most successful moment, he performed seven times a day, starting at 10:30 in the morning.
His voice, his warmth and that disarming smilee they managed to generate a current of affection for Bennett that exceeded the fashions; When rock and roll broke out in the mid-1950s, the artist hardly felt the effects of this powerful shift on young people’s tastes. Furthermore, in 1957 he launched The Beat Of My Heart with musicians from the jazz scene such as Art Blakey, Jo Jones, Herbie Mann, Nat Adderley and their collaborations with the Count Basie orchestra and that remembered hit Chicago.
Somehow, his closeness to jazz related him to Frank SinatraAlthough he had his own style, being a balladeer with incredible expressiveness, a capacity to transmit that placed him – all his success by himself – among the favorites of the public.
In 1962, he established his reputation with a formidable performance at Carnegie Hall with a band made up of jazz musicians and with the release of I Left My Heart in San Francisco.
We could say that with the arrival of the Beatles’ music to the United States, all popular music singers lost an important space and Bennett was no exception. The generational was imposed on any discussion about the quality of the interpreters.
Tony Bennett honored on “The Simpsons”
Everyone your recorder’s attempts to get you to record commercial music were unsuccessful And when he did it reluctantly it didn’t go well either. He compared this time with a precise analogy about his mother, an excellent seamstress. “It’s like when my mother was forced to make a cheap dress.”
He lived for a time in London, founded his own Improv label, recorded two famous albums with Bill Evans and then towards the end of the seventies, he moved to Las Vegas, where he continued without finding a clear direction until a cocaine overdose brought him close to death.
He called his sons Danny and Dae for help: “I’m lost and people don’t want to hear what I do.” Between 1979 and 1986, his son Danny rebuilt his father’s career, taking him away not only from substances, but also cleansing him of the image of a Las Vegas casino singer and returning to his historic Columbia label, from which he released his album. The Art Of Excellence, which hit the sales charts. Bennett was on the road again.
Tony Bennett crosses generations with his voice. At 95, he will retire. Photo Joseph Prezioso / AFP
Your child’s work
Danny Bennett’s imprint, which continues to be his main support in the music business to this day, made him win new audiences among young people, something that ensured sales levels; participated in television programs What Late Night With David Letterman, The Simpson, Los Muppets and the plan worked without the artist losing his permanent search for quality.
“I realized that young people had never heard the songs of Cole Porter, George Gershwin and they asked who wrote that? For them they were different and if you are different, you stand out ”. By the way, beyond these valid appreciations, Bennett’s vocal quality was intensely expressive and it could have a strong romantic or melancholic feeling without being sugarcoated.
Bennett reappears in 1994 on MTV and records an impeccable live album MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett that goes platinum and wins the Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year. In 1998, he takes the stage in an impeccable suit and tie at a festival through mud and water in Glastonbury, England, and the audience cheers.
Bennett manages to transcend the generational, is admired and loved by an audience that respects him as a dignified grandfather. This current of affection places the artist in a privileged place. Wins Grammy Awards and for Contribution to the Record Industry place their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame while developing a methodical charitable activity.
He defines himself as a humanist: “My life experiences ranging from the Battle of the Bulge to marching with Martin Luther King made me a lifelong humanist and pacifist.”
His discs in duets, already in the 2000s, are perfect, Bennett shows an enormous capacity to raise his musical stature to different artists; We could say that he manages to get the best out of each one of them.
His duet with Amy Winehouse (which is precisely the tenth anniversary of his death this Friday) is superb. With the album along with Lady Gaga he also entered the Guinness World Record for being the oldest artist to reach number 1 on the sales charts in the United States. He lacked nothing in his life.
Tony Bennett, a singer with a unique voice, who always chose his repertoire. AP Photo / Evan Agostini
We can’t stop talking about his other passion, painting, exhibited in numerous art galleries; and there are two of his works in the permanent collections of the National Arts Club, in Gramercy Park, New York and in the Smithsonian American Museum, Washington.
The announcement of his illness puts in white on black the two concerts that he will give with Lady Gaga, in Radio City, New York; his audience is advised that it will be a farewell to Tony Bennett, a farewell filled with sympathy and understanding for this monumental artist.