Tony Bennett | Still Putting Out The Hits
Who would have known that Tony Bennett (born Anthony Dominick Benedetto; August 3, 1926), the Astoria, Queens native and son of an Italian immigrant grocer, would go on to be one of the greatest American singers of popular music, standards, show tunes, and jazz? And now, at 85 years old, he’s still putting out the hits!
His incredible musical career began in the early 1950s with numerous hit records and awards and flourished into the mid 60s. Bennett’s hold on the music world (as well as other pop singers) declined as the British Invasion took over and rock n roll controlled the scene. But, as many crooners and pop singers fell by the wayside, Bennett chugged on, putting out more records, perfecting his skills as an artist, and…
Remarkably, he staged an incredible comeback in the late 1980s and throughout the 90s, putting out gold record albums again and expanding his audience to the MTV Generation all the while keeping his musical style intact. His new audience reached amazing heights with Bennett’s appearance in 1994 on MTV Unplugged. With guest appearances by rock and country stars Elvis Costello and k.d. lang, the show attracted a massive audience and huge media attention. The resulting MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett album went platinum, giving him the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance Grammy award for the third straight year, and winning the top spot for Album of the Year. At age 68, Tony Bennett had come all the way back!
Jump to 2006, the year of his 80th birthday, and Duets: An American Classic was released. The album included performances with Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Bono and others, and won three Grammy Awards. The CD entered the Billboard 200 at Number 3 when it was released in October of 2006 and went on to be one of the best selling CDs of the year and of Bennett’s career. The album even spawned an Emmy awarded video entitled Tony Bennett: Duets – The Making of An American Classic.
Recently, Duets II, the follow-up to the amazingly popular Duets, was released in September 2011, in conjunction with his 85th birthday. The album’s pairing with Amy Winehouse on “Body and Soul” (reportedly the last recording she made before her death) charted on the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100, making Bennett the oldest living artist to appear there, as well as the artist with the greatest span of appearances. In Europe the single did very well reaching the top 15 in several countries. The album then debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making Bennett the oldest living artist to reach the top spot (beating out former record holder Bob Dylan, then 67) as well as marking the first time he had reached it himself.
Tony Bennett has released many many albums during his illustrious career, with the biggest selling of these in the U.S. being I Left My Heart in San Francisco, MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett, and Duets: An American Classic, all of which went platinum for shipping one million copies…Duets II is sure to follow suit. Eight other albums of his have gone gold in the U.S., including several compilations. Bennett has also charted over 30 singles during his career, with his biggest hits all occurring during the early 1950s and 2010/11. To date he has won fifteen Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards, been named an NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Honoree and has sold over 50 million records worldwide so we’re sure you’ll find something you love from this amazing artist.
For a quick fix (though it is a two disc set) you’ll definitely enjoy The Essential Tony Bennett released in 2002; a great intro to the hits that made him famous. Or for a terrific seasonal pick, check out A Swingin’ Christmas (2008) to get you in the holiday spirit! Enjoy!