Tony Bennett: Things You Did Not Know

By Carole 1 year ago

1. 10 Year Old Tony Impressed The Mayor

Image source / AARPBy the age of 10,  Tony Bennett was already gaining attention with his singing ability.  Thanks to his uncle’s position as a Queens Borough library commissioner, the young Bennett was brought to the opening ceremony and sang his heart out, receiving a pat on the head from the mayor and rapturous applause from the crowd.

2. He Started Getting Paid To Sing At 13

Image source / Courier Post
Tony received his first pay cheque for singing at the tender age of 13.  He was performing at various Italian restaurants in his neighborhood and when he wasn't singing, he was a waiter - rather young for a 13 year old but those were the days when you could leave school at 14 and start working full time!

3. Tony Has Released A Ton Of Music

Image source / Tony Bennett
As at May 2019, Bennett has released a staggering 57 studio albums, 11 live albums and 31 compilation albums!  Out of those albums, four of them went platinum and many others were certified gold by the RIAA.  When asked what his favorite release was, he said it was probably 'I Left My Heart In San Francisco' as this was his most famous.

4. His Voice Doesn't Require A Microphone!

Image source / Palm Beach Front
One of the signature traits of Bennett’s concerts was the time when he sang a song without any microphone or amplification.  Tony did this to prove the power of his own voice and show his talent at voice projection.  The song he usually sang during these demonstrations was 'Fly Me to the Moon.'

5. Tony Bennett Was On Very First 'Tonight Show'

Image source / Pinterest
Over sixty years ago, Bennett was the musical guest booked for the very first episode of 'The Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson.  Your grandparents will tell you that this show made
ohnny Carson a household name to an entire generation of Americans!  Tony was invited back dozens of times afterwards.

6. Mr Bennett Has Won 20 Grammy Awards

Image source / Twitter
Bennett has won a total of 20 Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.  He has been nominated for seven other Grammy awards that he didn’t win.  Besides the Grammy awards, Tony has also won two Emmy Awards which were for live performances on television.

7. Tony Collaborated With 'America's Got Talent' Runner-Up

Image source / YouTube
In an effort to stay relevant, despite his many years in showbusiness, Tony Bennett collaborated with America's Got Talent runner-up, Jackie Evancho, in 2011.  They performed their new duet version of the Disney classic, 'When You Wish Upon A Star.'  There was 73 years difference in age between the two performers!

8. Wasn’t He Always Unplugged?

Image source / Spotify
The 1990s saw a huge boost in Bennett’s popularity with his younger audience.  This was mainly due to his appearance on the widespread TV series 'MTV Unplugged.' Accompanied by Elvis Costello and K D Lang, Bennett managed to bridge the gap in generations who were used to hip-hop or rock music.

9. His Best Friend Was Frank Sinatra

Image source / JazzTimes
Bennett was a very close friend of fellow singer and music star Frank Sinatra.  In 2001, around 3 years after his friend’s death, Bennett founded The Frank Sinatra School of Performing Arts, to honor Sinatra. The school stands in Bennett’s home borough of Queens, New York City.

10. His First No 1 Album Was In 2011

Image source / NPR
For all Bennett’s success, he didn’t actually achieve a No. 1 album until 2011.  'Duets II' was released on his 85th birthday and was filled with amazing collaborations such as Lady Gaga, Norah Jones and Willie Nelson.
Bennett became 'the oldest living musician to ever debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.'

11. He Sang With Amy Winehouse

Image source / Billboard
The 'Duets II' album featured a whole host of collaborations and one of the stand outs would have to be the one Tony did with the late, great Amy Winehouse.  They sang 'Body and Soul' and the two would go on to share a Grammy award for Best Pop Duo..  Sadly, this was Amy's last recording before her untimely passing.

12. Tony Bennett Appeared In 'The Simpsons'

Image source / Pinterest
You know you've made it to the big time when you get a call for your voce to appear on The Simpsons!  Tony Bennett made his debut in the 19th episode of the 24th season.  It was known as 'Whiskey Business,' Bennett starring as a singer in a jazz club.  The club is visited by Lisa Simpson, singing alongside a hologram of Bleeding Gums Murphy!

13. His Original Stage Name Was Joe Bari

Image source / Jazz Discography
Bennett’s original stage name was actually Joe Bari which was named after the city and province in Italy. He initially used this name when he signed up for the 314th Army Special Services Band and continued to use it once  he left the military.  However, he switched to Tony Bennett in the late 1940s, after being advised to do so by Bob Hope!

14. Ahead of His Time

Image source / Pinterest
After the Second World War, Bennett spent time in Germany as part of the occupying force.  He was assigned to a band to entertain his fellow troops.  However, he was demoted and was sent to the Graves Registration Service duties as a punishment for a terrible crime at the time - dining with an old high school friend who was black.

15. Tony Has Always Been Woke

Image source / ABC News
If the US Military thought that punishing Bennett would prevent him from breaking the racial segregation rules within the army, they couldn't have been more wrong.  Tony became a passionate supporter of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s and named Martin Luther King Jr. as a personal friend.

16. The Older, The Busier

Image source / PopSugar
Even as he entered his early 90s, Tony Bennett refused to consider retiring from the showbiz life or the art world.  He once compared his situation to those of Jack Benny, Pablo Picasso and Fred Astaire, who also never retired.  He still had talent and charisma so why should he?

17. He Hit Rock Bottom When Work Dried Up

Image source / Showbiz Cheat
In 1979, Tony Bennett’s life hit a low point. His second marriage had failed and his record sales were falling.  He attempted to form his own record company and this had led to bankruptcy.  On top of that, there was a drug addition issue so, all in all, a bad time for the crooner.

18. He Brushed Himself Down And Worked His Way Back Up

Image source / Next Avenue
The silver lining to Bennett’s near-death experience in 1979 from a cocaine overdose, was that he came to an agreement with his son, Danny.  Danny had tried to follow in his father’s footsteps but it hadn’t worked out.  Unlike Tony, Danny had a  good head for business and it was agreed that he would become his father’s manager - the best decision ever!

19. Tony Bennett Has Appeared In Movies As Himself

Image source / Listal
Besides his songs being used in countless soundtracks in the world of film and television, Tony Bennett has also personally appeared in several films and TV shows, mainly as himself.  Some of his on-screen credits have included 'Entourage', 'Bruce Almighty' and 'Muppets Most Wanted.'

20. He Has An Interesting Guinness World Record

Image source / Insider
Bennett holds an interesting spot with the Guinness World Records. The record is 'the longest time between the release of an original recording and a re-recording of the same single by the same artist.'  His song 'Fascinating Rhythm' was re-recorded by himself almost 69 years after he first released it!

21. 'I Left My Heart In San Francisco' Was One Of His Classics

Image source / Spotify
One of Bennett’s most well known singles has to be his recording of the classic song 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco.'  Despite the fact that Tony was from New York City, this track took the world by storm. On August 19, 2016, the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco honored Bennett’s 90th birthday and the anniversary by unveiling a statue of him.

22. Love at First Sound

Image source / BuzzFeed
After he performed at his sell out concert at a Cleveland club in 1951,  Tony Bennett met Patricia Beech who was a jazz fan from Ohio.  It was love and first sight for the pair of them and barely a year later, the two married on February 12, 1952  in Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

23. His Fans Went Into Mourning When He Married

Image source / Nadim Ali
Such was Tony Bennett’s fame, as far back as the early 1950s, that when he got married to Patricia Beech, there were thousands of his female fans standing outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  As a joke, some of the fans wore black as if in mourning that their idol was no longer available!

24. Tony Bennett Has A Heart Of Gold

Image source / Billboard
In 2010, after the devastating earthquake ripped through the island nation of Haiti, there was a huge humanitarian response to the tragedy. Tony Bennett was one of 70 famous, some iconic, artists who sang on a charity single entitled 'We Are the World 25 for Haiti.'

25. He Sketched His Way To Success

Image source/ Artnet News
As a boy, Bennett showed a natural talent in school for drawing and visual arts. He was known throughout his school as being a caricaturist.  It was then that Tony assumed that he would go far in the world of art.  That was true, to some extent, except his singing took centre stage.

26. A Very Profitable Hobby

Image source / paper Magazine
If you thought we were exaggerating about Bennett’s talent for drawing, bear in mind that his artwork could have given him a good living even without his singing career.  Various  magazines have printed his art and his pieces regularly sell for up to $80,000!  Lady Gaga even made a purchase.

27. A Hit in the Art Community

Image source / Pinterest
Not only does Bennett’s art sell, but two best-selling books have been published about this lesser-known passion of Bennett’s.   The first was 'Tony Bennett: What My Heart Has Seen', published in 1996.  The second was 'Tony Bennett In The Studio: A Life Of Art And Music', published in 2007.

28. So Which is the Pseudonym?

Image source / The List
Perhaps in an effort to separate his singing career from his career as an artist, fans will have noticed that Bennett’s painting name is published under his real name, Antonio Benedetto.  When signing his paintings, he sometimes shortens his name to simply 'Benedetto'.

29. Like Father Like Daughter

Image source / YouTube
One of Tony Bennett’s four children is his daughter, Antonia. Throughout the 2000s, she was often brought on as an opening act to her famous father or introduced as a special guest.  Antonia’s singing has been compared to Billie Holliday and Jane Monheit.  Her debut album, 'Embrace Me',
was released in 2014.

30. That Shining Pearl!

Image source / Wikipedia
Tony's big singing break came thanks to Pearl Bailey. In 1949, she noticed him when he was struggling to get his foot in the door of the music industry.  Pearl invited Bennett to open for her shows in Greenwich Village.  He was received with thunderous applause and his name became known.

What To Read Next

Load More