“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Good Life…

Posted on July 21, 2023 by raideoman1 | 1 Comment

Manny P. here…

“`Tony Bennett is considered one of the finest jazz stylists over the last century. Along with Johnny Mathis, his career certainly had longevity. And his favorable comparisons to Sinatra, Torme, Nat Cole and other contemporaries are well deserved.

“`Bennett grew up listening to Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby as well as jazz artists, such as Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden. His uncle Dick was a tap dancer in vaudeville. At age ten, Bennett sang at the opening of the  Triborough Bridge, standing next to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. As a teen, he began crooning for money, performing as a singing waiter in a few Italian restaurants around his native Queens. Bennett began winning amateur nights all around the city and enjoyed a successful engagement at a Paramus, New Jersey, nightclub.

“`During World War II, Bennett fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate a couple of concentration camps.  After discharge from the Army in 1946, he enrolled at the American Theatre Wing on the GI Bill. He developed an unusual approach that involved imitating as he sang,  the style and phrasing of musicians—such as Stan Getz’s sax and Art Tatum’s piano—helping him to improvise as he interpreted a song.

“`In 1949, Pearl Bailey asked him to open for her in Greenwich Village. She invited Bob Hope to the show. He decided to take Bennett on the road with him. The next year, he cut a demo, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and was signed to the major label Columbia Records by Mitch Miller.  Tony had his first #1 hit record with Because of You. Rags to Riches followed in 1953. He refined his approach to encompass jazz singing.  In 1962, Bennett recorded his signature song, I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

“`Bennett hits included The Good Life, When Joanna Loved Me, A Taste of Honey, For Once in My Life, The Shadow of Your Smile and Fly Me to the Moon.  After performing live all over the globe, he began recording, once again. His collaborative effort with top singers re-invigorated his career. They include Stevie Wonder, Diana Krall, Billy Joel, Michael Buble, k. d. Lang, Amy Winehouse and most notably, with Lady Gaga.  Bennett and Gaga’s Grammy-winning album, Cheek to Cheek, which debuted at #1 on Billboard, earning the Guinness World Records for “oldest person to reach No.1 on the U. S. Album Chart with a newly recorded album”, at the age of eighty-eight years and sixty-nine days.

“`The crooner had a minor film career with appearances in The Oscar, The Scout, Analyze This and Bruce Almighty. Bennett also had tremendous success as a painter.  He exhibited his work in numerous galleries around the world.  He was chosen as the official artist for the 2001 Kentucky Derby and commissioned by the United Nations, as well.  Boy on Sailboat, Sydney Bay is in the permanent collection at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, New York, as is his Central Park at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

“`He had zero intention of retiring, referencing Pablo Picasso, Jack Benny and Fred Astaire:

“Right up to the day they died, they were performing… I never sing a song that’s badly written. In the 1920s and 1930s, there was a renaissance in music that was the equivalent of the artistic Renaissance. Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and others just created the best songs that had ever been written. These are classics, and finally they’re not being treated as light entertainment. This is classical music.” 

“`A purveyor of the classics, Tony Bennett (above right) was ninety-six.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Friday, July 21st, 2023 at 1:40 pm and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One Response to ““Forgotten Hollywood”- The Good Life…”

  1. JC home Says:

    He was a real American classic. You did a fantastic job here telling his story!

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