Tony Bennett died today
A Golden Ager in every sense, Tony Bennett died today in his eighties after a long and productive life.
As a tribute, here is an article we published in Golden Agers in November, 2006.
Antonio Benedetto is a true American legend both as a singer and as an example of the American Dream. The son of a grocer and a seamstress who grew up in Astoria, Queens, he first started singing in the Army military band under the name Joe Bari. After his army stint he continued honing his vocal style even while waiting tables. Pearl Bailey spotted him and asked him to open for her. It was at this show that Bob Hope first heard Joe Bari and advised him to use a simplified version of his real name. It was 1949 and Antonio Benedetto became Tony Bennett.
Tony’s style and phrasing resembled musicians more than other vocalists, he sang as if his voice were an insrument he was playing.
Tony had a string of successes in the 50s and even early 60s but when rock arrived with the British Invasion, Tony found young people didn’t want to listen to his kind of music.
In the 80s it was Tony’s son who resurrected his career and Tony reached a new audience and generation. He didn’t compromise on the style or the music, yet his popularity soared amongst young listeners. He’s been going strong ever since.
Although he left art school as a teen to help support his family, Tony never lost his love of art. Today his paintings hang in such prestigious places as the Butler Institute of American Art and The National Arts Club.
Now in his 80th year, Tony Bennett is embarking on a 20 city tour to promote his new album Duets: An American Classic. Tony is teaming up with AARP on this road show and details on cities and dates can be found at their site as well as some interviews with guest stars who appear on the album with Tony.
Also at the AARP site is a gallery of paintings by Tony Bennett, which he signs with his real name “Benedetto”. Included is an amazing and warmly personal portrait of bandleader Duke Ellington.