Tony Bennett Through the Years: Grammy Wins, Family Life, Retirement and More
26.05.2023 - 17:31
From rags to riches! Tony Bennett has had a long and successful career as a jazz artist – but the “Because of You” singer started out with humble beginnings.
The 19-time Grammy award winner (real name Anthony Dominick Benedetto) was born in Queens, New York in 1926 to a low-income family. His father, Giovanni “John” Benedetto, was a grocer and his mother, Anna Maria Suraci, was a seamstress. The Great Depression hit the family hard as John’s health declined. He died by the time Bennett was 10 years old.
The New York native began singing from a young age and would practice while waiting tables in order to help his family financially. “I started when I was about 6. I never met an Italian descent family in America that isn’t musical,” Bennett said in an interview with Jazz Professional in 1966.
The “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” artist had his big break in 1949 when vaudeville singer Pearl Bailey invited him to open for her concert series in Greenwich Village. Entertainer Bob Hope attended one of the performances and offered Bennett a spot in his show at the Paramount Theater. At the time, Bennett was going by the stage name Joe Bari and it was Hope that suggested he change it to Tony Bennett.
One year later, the crooner signed with Columbia Records and released chart-topping songs including “Because of You” and “Blue Velvet.”. He won his first Grammy in 1962 for his recording of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and would continue to collect a total of 19 wins with 41 nominations.
Bennett stayed in the spotlight throughout the decades by gaining popularity with a younger audience, even as pop music began to shift and change in the ‘90s. His 1994 appearance on MTV Unplugged resulted in a platinum album and a Grammy win for
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