Tony Bennett died yesterday in his hometown of New York. Despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, he continued to perform until early 2020.
The message of his official Twitter account simply said: “Tony left us today but he was still singing the other day at his piano and his last song was Because of You, his first #1 hit.
“Tony, because of you we have your songs in our heart forever.”
Anthony Dominick Benedetto, the boy from Queens, had sung with everyone from Aretha Franklin to Lady Gaga across a glittering seven-decade career.
Surrounded and revered by his fellow greats throughout his life, the biggest one of all paid him the ultimate compliment.
Frank Sinatra, also known as the Chairman of the Board, once said: “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business. He excites me when I watch him.
“He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more.”
Later in his life, Bennett said: “I was his favourite and he was my favourite and I couldn’t get over it because he was a phenomenal artist, a beautiful singer and a great person.”
Sinatra went one better with an extraordinary homage to his friend at a concert.
Sinatra said: “Tony’s gonna come out now and he’s gonna tear the seats outta this place for you.He’s my man, this cat. He’s the greatest singer in the world today., this man, Mr Tony Bennett!
“I said it publicly in the paper and I’m gonna say it again, he’s the greatest thing in the world today.”
Bennett, in turn, revealed he had been inspired to a career in show business after he saw Sinatra live on stage when he was just 12 years old, and had learned so much about stagecraft from the icon.
In his early days of stardom, Bennett was encouraged and helped by the older star when he started to perform before larger crowds after humble beginnings as a singing waiter in local Italian restaurants.
Bennett said: “Sinatra taught me, the audience are your friends, they come to see you. And he changed my whole psychology about, there’s no such thing as a bad audience. There’s a bad performance, but there’s not a bad audience.”