Anthony Dominick Benedetto, known professionally as Tony Bennett, is an American singer of traditional pop standards, big band, show tunes, and jazz.
Tony began his music career at a young age, working as a singing waiter in nearby Italian restaurants. Though he studied music formally at New York’s School of Industrial Art, hard times forced him to drop out and pursue paying work at 16. Even as he worked a series of menial day jobs, Benedetto continued to gig at night right up until being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944. Benedetto saw heavy combat as an infantryman in France and Germany toward the end of the war and even took part in the liberation of a Nazi Concentration Camp.
Hope dubbed the young singer Tony Bennett and invited him on tour. The following year, he signed to Columbia Records and launched into a decade of dramatic success. With hits like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Blue Velvet,” and “Rags to Riches,” Bennett established himself as a suave and sophisticated counterpoint to Sinatra’s streetwise tough guy.
In the late ‘50s, Bennett also earned musical credibility beyond the Billboard landscape, recording with leading jazz masters like Herbie Mann, Art Blakey, and Chico Hamilton. This credibility may also account for his ability to remain relevant into the early ‘60s, even after the first surge of rock and roll. Indeed, 1962 would be a landmark year for Bennett, who headlined a star-studded bill at Carnegie Hall, performed at the opening broadcast of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and released what remains his signature song, the breezy and perfectly evocative “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
It also garnered a resurgence of attention, acclaim, and recognition for the aging star. Indeed, the last 20 years have been something of a victory lap for Bennett, who continues not only to perform into his 80s but to collect all manner of accolades. He is the winner of an astonishing 17 Grammy Awards, two Emmys, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also continues to surprise audiences by collaborating with major contemporary artists like K.D. Lang, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga.
Clancy's comment: This man always had a silky voice.