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Legendary pop and jazz singer Tony Bennett passes away at the age of 96

The 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco' hitmaker was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016 but continued to perform and record up until 2021.

Legendary pop and jazz singer Tony Bennett passes away at the age of 96
Tony Bennett performs onstage during the 17th Annual A Great Night In Harlem at The Apollo Theater on April 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Musical icon Tony Bennett passed away on Friday morning in New York City at the age of 96. According to Variety, the "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" hitmaker was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016 but continued to perform and record up until 2021. The legendary pop vocalist had a flourishing professional career spanning eight decades with a No. 1 album at age 85!

Image Source: Recording artist Tony Bennett attends the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
Image Source: Recording artist Tony Bennett attends the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018, in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

The singer started from humble beginnings, born to Italian immigrant parents. His father was a grocer and his mother a seamstress. He grew up in poverty and faced many hardships but always had a passion for music  He served on the front lines during World War II and eventually sang as a member of an Armed Forces band.

According to PEOPLE, he was discovered by Bob Hope in 1949 and two years later came out with his first big hit, 1951's "Because of You." Throughout his longstanding career, he won numerous awards including 19 Grammys. Frank Sinatra once called him the greatest popular singer in the world.



 

In 2021, it was announced that he was retiring from performing. His son and manager Danny Bennett revealed in an interview with Variety, "It's not the singing aspect but, rather, the traveling. Look, he gets tired." Danny said the family wanted to focus on the singer's well-being. "His continued health is the most important part of this, and when we heard the doctors — when Tony's wife, Susan heard them — she said, 'Absolutely not,'" Danny said at the time.



 

Fans found it hard to believe that the musical icon was struggling with Alzheimer's disease at the time he sang alongside Lady Gaga in a two-concert series. It was his final New York performance which took place in early August 2021 at Radio City Music Hall. "They kept telling me that we lied, that there was no way Tony had Alzheimer's," Danny said of fan responses to his performance with the 37-year-old artist.

"I assured everyone that he does... Yes, here he was, at 95, and still singing like this: strong, Emotive. But still, it is a complex question: how can he do this? My answer is that this is where he has lived his whole life and where he is most happy — on the stage, making music. Dealing as we have with Alzheimer's for the last four-five years, it's cognitive," he added. "He has short-term memory loss. That, however, does not mean that he doesn't still have all this stored up inside of him. He doesn't use a Teleprompter. He never misses a line. He hits that stage and goes. Tony may not remember every part of doing that show. But, when he stepped to the side of the stage, the first thing he told me was: 'I love being a singer.'"



 

A video posted by u/TerrySharpHY on Reddit showed Bennett, who had a hard time remembering names, recalling the lyrics of the song he had been performing for over 50 years. Lady Gaga asked him to perform an age-old song adding that nobody in the world could sing it better and he absolutely took everyone's breath away with his performance. RIP, legend. 


 
 
 
 
 
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