Legendary jazz and pop singer Tony Bennett dies at 96

Tony Bennett.
(Image credit: JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images)

Great American pop and jazz vocalist Tony Bennett died Friday at the age of 96, his publicist confirmed to The Associated Press. Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2016 but continued performing until 2021, and leaves behind a legendary career spanning over seven decades.

Bennett got his start as a jazz crooner in the 1950s and went on to release over 70 albums. "Tony Bennett possesses one of the great voices and singing careers of the last 60 years," said John Edward Hasse, music historian who was a former curator of American music at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. "Not very many singers, much less musicians, have achieved that kind of durability." His work won him 19 competitive Grammys and a lifetime achievement award, almost all of them earned after the age of 60.

He first gained widespread notoriety for his recording of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" by George Cory and Douglass Cross. He is also well known for his collaboration with Lady Gaga on the 2014 album "Cheek to Cheek," which made him the oldest artist (88 at the time) to have a number-one record, per The Washington Post. He dedicated his career to preserving American classics by the likes of the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Cole Porter.

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"I enjoy entertaining the audience, making them forget their problems," Bennett told the AP in 2006. "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 is survived by his wife, Susan Benedetto; his two sons, Danny and Dae Bennett; his daughters, Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett; and nine grandchildren, his representatives told People.

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Devika Rao

Devika Rao is a staff writer for The Week. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Environment and Sustainability and a minor in Climate Change. Previously, she worked as a Policy and Advocacy associate in the nonprofit space advocating for environmental action from the business perspective. She is passionate about the environment, books, and music.