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Bennett’s publicist confirmed his death to The Associated Press, noting that the hitmaker passed away in his hometown of New York City. Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, but had continued to perform and record through 2021.
As one of the preeminent popular singers of the mid-20th century, Bennett said his goal was to create “a hit catalog rather than hit records.” To that end, he released more than 70 albums over the course of his decades-long career. One of the best-loved songs in Bennett’s repertoire was the 1962 classic, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
His dedication to music earned the singer more than 19 Grammy Awards and worldwide recognition as an industry sensation.
“I enjoy entertaining the audience, making them forget their problems,” he told The Associated Press during a 2006 interview. “I think people … are touched if they hear something that’s sincere and honest and maybe has a little sense of humor. … I just like to make people feel good when I perform.”
Bennett was well regarded by his contemporaries. One of the most glowing reviews came from industry great Frank Sinatra, who said during a 1965 Life magazine interview, “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business. He excites me when I watch him. He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more.”
Fans were always impressed by Bennett’s enduring adaptability and popularity. The artist was known for being a jazz singer, but also thrived in other mediums and was willing to collaborate with all sorts of artists. He became a sensation in the 1950s and ’60s, surged in popularity again in the ’90s, and found new fans in recent years after he recorded with several contemporary artists.
“Cheek to Cheek,” his 2014 duets project with Lady Gaga, earned him the record as the oldest living performer with a number one album on the Billboard 200 chart. The singer was 88 at the time.
Bennett is survived by his wife, Susan Benedetto, sons Danny and Dae Bennett, daughters Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett, and nine grandchildren.