Singer Tony Bennett, whose joyful and exhilarating renditions of classics such as Rags to Riches, How You Look Tonight and his signature song, I Left My Heart in San Francisco, made him one of jazz, pop and Broadway standards’ most popular performers, died Friday, a spokesman for CBS News confirmed. He was 96 years old.
Winner of 19 Grammy awards during his seventy-year career, Bennett recorded 60 studio albums and dozens of live albums and compilations. The album Seven reached the top ten on the Billboard charts.
But he was inextricably linked to one song, most notably the song he first rehearsed without even setting foot in San Francisco.
[I Left My Heart] In San Francisco, Tony Bennett – YouTube topic
Bennett recalled for “Sunday Morning” in 2014 how his music director Ralph Sharon found the song when they were first heading to San Francisco. They were rehearsing it one afternoon at a nightclub in Little Rock, Arkansas: “And the bartender said, ‘I don’t want to interrupt you guys, but if you ever record this, I’ll be the first to buy the record.’ And we felt a little inspired! And when I came to San Francisco, at the rehearsal, I started singing it, everyone ran up to me and said: “You have to record this song.”
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was actually released as the B-side of Bennett’s 1962 recording “Once Upon a Time”. But it was this B-side that won a Grammy for Record of the Year and earned Bennett a Grammy for his performance. It became his signature tune.
“Most artists who are associated with one famous thing get frustrated: why does it have to be just one thing? What about all the other things I do?” Bennett said “Sunday morning”. “But I feel different. I like the song “San Francisco”. I sing it every night like it was the first time I sang it.”
He even sang it during a 1994 appearance on MTV Unplugged, where he performed with Elvis Costello and kd lang. The recording of the concert went platinum and received two Grammy awards, including Album of the Year.
Bennett’s resilience as a performer was due not only to his impressive array of pipes; he also took the stage with great joy, talking about the Great American Songbook – the works of George and Ira Gershwin, E. J. Yarburg, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer.
“Best in the business”
Bennett recalled advice Frank Sinatra gave him back in 1956 when the young singer visited the chairman of the board backstage at the Paramount Theatre. Bennett had early success and received an offer to star in a summer TV show as a replacement. “I never met him. When I walked into his dressing room, he said, “What is this, kid? He called me a child all his life! I told him, “I am very nervous. I’m on network TV. And I’m scared.” And he gave me the best device: “If people see that you are scared, they will come closer and help you even more.”
“And he changed my whole attitude. The public is not the enemy. They are your friends. You perform for them, and the more you perform for them, the more they go for it. He taught me how to perform with just that one phrase.”
Bennett credited Sinatra with boosting his profile after being quoted in a 1965 Life magazine interview as saying, “In my opinion, Tony Bennett is the best in the business.”
“He changed my career,” Bennett told Sunday Morning. “All his fans wanted to know what he was talking about. And from that day on, I was sold out all over the world.”
Bennett had a new generation of fans in 2014, when at the age of 88 he united with the singer Lady Gaga, who was 60 years younger than him, to record the duets of the “Cheek to Cheek”, which included standards such as “Anything Goes”, “I can’t you man ‘S Face The Music and Dance “and” It Donat Mean Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing) “. The album reached number one and won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
Cheek To Cheek Tony Bennett – YouTube Thread
In 2015, the couple toured Europe and North America. Bennett recorded a second album with Lady Gaga, Love for Sale, and another collection of duets with Diana Krall, Love Is Here to Stay.