HomeMusicTony Bennett, Champion of the Great American Songbook, Is Dead at 96

Tony Bennett, Champion of the Great American Songbook, Is Dead at 96

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He recorded albums that honored musicians he admired — Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday — and he collaborated on standards with singers half, or less than half, his age. On the 2006 album “Duets: An American Classic,” he sang “If I Ruled the World” with Ms. Dion, “Smile” with Barbra Streisand and “For Once in My Life” with Stevie Wonder, and revisited his first Columbia single, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” with Sting. Five years later, on “Duets II,” his collaborators included Aretha Franklin, Queen Latifah, Willie Nelson and Ms. Winehouse.

As the century changed, he was once again touring, giving up to 200 performances a year, and recording prolifically.

In 2007 Mr. Bennett married a third time, to his longtime companion, Susan Crow, a teacher four decades his junior whom he had met in the late 1980s. Together they started a foundation, Exploring the Arts, that supports arts education in schools, and financed the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a public high school in Queens.

Mr. Bennett had lived in the same Manhattan apartment, where he died, for most of his adult life, except for a few years in Los Angeles and London, Ms. Weiner, his publicist, said. He is survived by his wife; his sons, Danny and Dae; his daughters, Johanna and Antonia Bennett; and 9 grandchildren.

If there was a magical quality to Mr. Bennett’s life, as suggested by David Evanier in a glowing 2011 biography, “All the Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett,” it is encapsulated by a story Mr. Bennett told to Whitney Balliett in 1974.

“I like the funny things in life that could only happen to me now,” he said. “Once, when I was singing Kurt Weill’s ‘Lost in the Stars’ in the Hollywood Bowl with Basie’s band and Buddy Rich on drums, a shooting star went falling through the sky right over my head and everyone was talking about it, and the next morning the phone rang and it was Ray Charles, who I’d never met, calling from New York. He said, ‘Hey, Tony, how’d you do that, man?’ and hung up.”

Content Source: www.nytimes.com

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