Tony Bennett

August 3, 1926

Tony Bennett Artistfacts

  • He was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Astoria, Queens, New York, to Italian-born immigrant grocer John Benedetto and seamstress Anna Suraci.
  • Benedetto reportedly sang to customers while waiting tables as a teenager.
  • He was drafted into the United States Army in November 1944, during the final stages of World War II. Benedetto narrowly dodged German bullets as an infantryman before witnessing the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, which he helped liberate.
  • Benedetto first started singing as Joe Bari until Bob Hope told him "I don't like your stage name." On hearing the singer was born Anthony Dominck Benedetto, Hope's response was "Too long for the marquee. We'll call you Tony Bennett."
  • As Tony Bennett, he developed his singing technique, signed with Columbia Records and had his first #1 popular song with "Because of You" in 1951.
  • His career and his personal life experienced an extended downturn during the height of the rock music era, but Tony Bennett enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s. In 1995 he won the Album Of The Year Grammy award for MTV Unplugged, taken from his acoustic performance on the network.
  • Tony Bennett battled with cocaine addiction in the 1970s. It was the death in 1980 of jazz pianist and junkie Bill Evans, who'd recorded with Bennett, which shook him out of it.
  • Bennett's 1987 The Art Of Excellence LP was the first album to be initially released on CD instead of the traditional vinyl format.
  • He appeared as himself in the films Analyse This (1999) and Bruce Almighty (2003).
  • Amy Winehouse's last recording before she died was a recording with 84-year-old Tony Bennett of the standard "Body and Soul." The song charted on the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100, making Bennett the oldest living artist to appear there. He held the record for two years, until "Oh Sweet Lorraine" by Green Shoe Studio featuring 96-years-old Fred Stobaugh debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #42.
  • Bennett also holds the record for the artist with the greatest span of appearances on the Hot 100 having originally chartered with "Young and Warm and Wonderful," on the very first Hot 100 dated August 4, 1958. In charting again with "Body and Soul" on October 1, 2011, Bennett's span of appearing on the tally was a total of 53 years and two-months.
  • Tony Bennett recorded an album of duets with Lady Gaga called Cheek To Cheek in 2014. When it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, it extended the 88-year-old Bennett's record for the oldest artist to do so.

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