The great singer Tony Bennett passes on at age 96

Tony Bennett. Photo via the Library of Congress

By Robert Willmann

In 2018, when 91 (or 92) years young, Tony Bennett released yet another music album, Love Is Here to Stay. Singing with him is Diana Krall, who has her own music career performing known songs with jazz-like arrangements that are light and never rushed or loud. She often plays the piano when she sings. Here they are doing Nice Work if You Can Get It, from the album–

And from the same recording, ‘S Wonderful, performed on the Jimmy Fallon Show —

Bennett appeared on the Johnny Carson Show on 2 May 1979, backed by the great Tonight Show Band directed by Doc Severinsen, and sang four songs, including Carson’s favorite, Here’s That Rainy Day–

He brought happiness and good feelings to many people through the power of music, the universal language.

Tony Bennett (3 August 1926 – 21 July 2023). Rest in peace.

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16 Responses to The great singer Tony Bennett passes on at age 96

  1. al says:

    I was very fortunate seeing/hearing Tony Bennett, with Diana Krall opening for him. About 15 yrs ago on a beautiful summer night, I sat with my lovely date about 40 rows back in an outdoor venue that held over 5,000 in attendance. When Tony Bennett sang a song with his trio it was “so quiet, you could hear a pin drop”.

    Well, almost!

    Setting behind me and a bit off my left shoulder were 2 stylish gals constantly gabbing. One telling the other where the other should go in France on a pending trip and the other asking unending questions. This was very annoying! Eventually one of the woman stated, “I can’t believe how quiet this crowd is. I’ve been here many times and never like this”. Upon that comment I turned in my seat and and addressed the women [likely with an angry face], “It would be a lot more quiet if you would stop chattering so we could hear Tony Bennett!!!” They shut up and shortly thereafter left.

    A few songs later by Tony Bennett, a fan up close to the stage, evidently also frustrated by attendees’ chatter, stood up and loudly told those chatting behind him, “would you people please shut up!” In mid-lyric, Mr. Bennet worked in the words, “Thank you very much!”

    For the rest of the show the only sound heard among the crowd was thunderous applause as each song ended.

    I’ve attended countless number of musical artist concerts over several decades (Ray Charles, Lyle Lovett, Count Basie, Willie Nelson, Dr, John, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy…on and on the list goes)

    Tony Bennett by far the best!!!!

    • F&L says:

      Dean Martin!

      I’m serious. The man was incredibly gifted. And handsome. And funny as the dickens. Who made the song ‘Unforgettable’ famous? I don’t know but remembering Tony Bennett and watching the old Dean Martin celebrity roasts on YouTube sure is a pleasure. I guess it was Nat King Cole.

  2. al says:

    BTW, Bennett’s later duets with Lady Gaga….AMAZING!

    The Lady is a Tramp:
    I Get a Kick Out of You:

  3. TTG says:

    Thanks for this. Tony Bennett was of a magnificent generation of singers/musicians/entertainers. With each song, these artists crafted something that was both intricate and simple. My newer car has a satellite radio and I almost always listen to one particular SiriusXM channel… Siriusly Sinatra. One can’t help but feel good listening to all those artists. It sure beats talk radio or 24 hour news. I’m driving to Richmond tomorrow and I’m sure the artistry of Tony Bennett will feature prominently.

  4. al says:

    Mr Bennett was very active in the 1960s, and on, civil rights struggles!

    Tony Bennett, enraged by racism, championed civil rights …when the artist and activist Harry Belafonte called up Bennett and asked him to join the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, Bennett accepted without hesitation. He flew to Alabama and linked arms with his allies in the fight for justice.

    NBC News › news › nbcblk › tony-ben…
    11 hours ago — Bennett committed himself to the cause of racial equality in the decades that followed. He advocated for gifted Black artists and pushed the …

  5. al says:

    Tony Bennett and WWII
    “… Like many people and many families, the Benedettos’ lives were forever changed by World War II. Bennett turned 18 in 1944 and was drafted into the U.S. Army. By March 1945, the young soldier was deploying to Europe with the 63rd Infantry Division, replacing casualties lost in the Battle of the Bulge. In his 1998 autobiography “The Good Life,” he called the war a “front row seat in hell.”

    Bennett wrote that he spent his time on the freezing battlefields digging into foxholes as German 88-millimeter flak guns rained death down on him and his unit. On March 15, 1945, the 63rd Infantry Division assaulted the Siegfried Line. It took them five days to breach the defenses east of Saarbrucken.

    The 63rd fought its way across Germany, leaving a path of “blood and fire” through Worms, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Gunzburg and Landsberg. It earned a collective seven Presidential Unit Citations and captured more than 21,000 enemy soldiers. From April 24-27, 1945, Bennett was among the soldiers who liberated the Kaufering Concentration Camp, the largest subcamp of the notorious Dachau complex.

    As the liberating U.S. Army approached, more than 10,000 prisoners were at Kaufering. Many of those were transported to Dachau itself before the Americans arrived. Most of them were forcibly marched to other camps. Many of those who stayed behind were slaughtered. When soldiers like Bennett arrived, they found 500 charred corpses strewn out on the ground.
    World War II in Europe was over within days after the liberation of the Kaufering camp. Cpl. Benedetto, as Bennett was then known, was sent to Mannheim as part of the Allied occupation force of postwar Germany. It was there he first picked up the microphone to sing jazz standards with Army band units.

    He adopted the stage name Joe Bari and began singing with the 314th Army Special Services Band. He couldn’t sing under his own name, because he’d been demoted to private and reassigned to the Graves Registration Service for dining with a Black friend at a time when the Army was still segregated.

    It just so happened that Bennett ran into an old [black] friend, Frank Smith, while they were both stationed in Mannheim. They had dinner together on Thanksgiving Day, when an Army captain walked into the hotel restaurant. The officer ripped his stripes off and put him on gravedigging detail. It lasted only a week before a colonel learned about it and sent Bennett to an orchestra….”

    • F&L says:

      A fitting tribute. Thanks. Brings to mind the sections on the treatment of Black soldiers described in Studs Terkel’s ‘The Good War.’

    • scott s. says:

      “By March 1945, the young soldier was deploying to Europe with the 63rd Infantry Division, replacing casualties lost in the Battle of the Bulge.”

      Don’t think that is accurate. Patch’s 7th Army had landed in southern France and campaigned up the Rhone to a link-up with Patton’s 3rd Army. With that OPCON of 7th Army switched to Eisenhower with a new intermediate command, VIth Army Group under Devers, also incorporating 1st French Army. As 7th Army at that point had a single Corps (VI – Truscott), Eisenhower agreed to provide newly arriving divisions to 7th Army in what would be its XVth corps. 63rd Division would become part of that addition arriving piece-meal with infantry (TF Harris) assigned to XV corps. XVth corps on the north would be stretched north to occupy the front of 3rd Army as Patton was wheeled north during the “bulge”. That somewhat exposed position in the lower Vosges Mtns would lead German Command to launch Operation Nordwind that New Year’s eve.

      • leith says:

        Operation Nordwind started only two weeks after the start of the Bulge. To the general public and to most GIs there was no difference between them. And Bastogne was not that far from where Seventh army was in northern Alsace.

  6. F&L says:

    Born in 1926. 3 years till the full century. Maybe he knew something was coming. I figure 2028 is probably the end.

    Either I’m losing it or they keep adjusting the dates of approach on this Wikipedia article. What will be more severe – the actual physical damage wrought by this asteroid or the riotous cataclysms which the monopolized trillionaire controlled media will whip up? Sorry Tony. You were a great gentleman. Movie producers didn’t wake up one morning to discover a thoroughbred race horse’s head under their bedsheets just because you were refused a movie part.

    • Al says:

      F&L.. that horse head gift supposedly in support of Frank.

      • F&L says:

        I know. That’s why I wrote that they ➡️ didn’t⬅️ wake up to find a ..
        Frank was handsome too in his own way. Read what Katherine Hepburn had to say about it. TTG runs a strict regime here so I won’t repeat it.

  7. ked says:

    Tony B w/ Bill Evans is a great album, also one w/ Count Basie.
    way ahead of his time … on many levels. then there’s this;
    “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business.”
    Sinatra, ’65.

  8. Jim Ticehurst says:

    Willmann And Tony Fans

    Thanks for the Memorial And links to Tony And Company.. all Sweet The
    Lady Gaga was a Great Generational hookup too There were many Greats and Big Bands .. Tony finished with Dignity And He Crissed the
    Moon River… in Style .. with a Smile. A Star fir Sure

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