NYC and beyond pays tribute to beloved crooner Tony Bennett

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Friday, July 21, 2023
NYC and beyond pays tribute to beloved crooner Tony Bennett
Fans and artists from around the world are mourning the loss of legendary crooner and New York City icon Tony Bennett. Josh Einiger has more.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Fans and artists from around the world are mourning the loss of legendary crooner and New York City icon Tony Bennett.

The singer died Friday morning at the age of 96, just two weeks shy of his birthday.

Bennett, who became the oldest living artist to ever hit number one on the Billboard album chart, was born in Queens and leaves a lasting impact on New York City.

The son of a grocer even helped establish a high school there that was dedicated to the performing arts: The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.

"The thousands of students who have come through FSSA and who will go through FSSA are forever changed because of you, your legacy lives on in all of us," the school said in a statement.

Principal of the Frank Sinatra School of Arts Gideon Frankel speaks out about impact of Tony Bennett.

In the '70s, Bennett found himself without a recording contract, in debt and battling a drug problem. That's when his son Danny stepped in as his manager and the revitalization of his career began.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2016 but was able to keep singing.

Bennett is a longtime resident of 100 Central Park South, and has been frequently seen in a wheelchair in recent years, in the south end of the park.

The entertainer moved to his penthouse overlooking Central Park some 25 years ago, to be closer to the beloved park.

On Friday morning, his neighbors played his music in the lobby in celebration of his life, cherishing the time they got to talk to him.

"He's a great neighbor, good friend to everybody in the neighborhood and we're going to miss him," said Carlos Roman who worked near his building.

Bennett retired from live performances in 2021 after going out on a high note with a series of performances alongside pop icon Lady Gaga.

The duo performed their emotional last show together -- billed as "One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga" -- at Radio City Music Hall.

Sandy Kenyon has more on the the death of legendary singer Tony Bennett.

Reaction from NYC and beyond

On Friday, many shared their memories of how his music and his beautiful voice brought them so much joy.

Mayor Eric Adams

"A working class kid from Queens, Tony Bennett sang our song to the world. Don't let the lyrics fool you - he left his heart right here in New York City. May he rest in peace."

Gov. Kathy Hochul

"Growing up in Queens in a family of immigrants, Tony Bennett's story was the New York story. He brought joy to audiences around the world, attention to some of the most important issues of our time, & inspiration to the next generation of artists. He will be truly missed."

Billy Joel

"Tony Bennett was the one of the most important interpreters of American popular song during the mid to late 20th century. He championed songwriters who might otherwise have remained unknown to many millions of music fans. His was a unique voice that made the transition from the era of Jazz into the age of Pop. I will always be grateful for his outstanding contribution to the art of contemporary music. He was a joy to work with. His energy and enthusiasm for the material he was performing was infectious. He was also one of the nicest human beings I've ever known."

Barack Obama

"Tony Bennett was an iconic songwriter and entertainer who charmed generations of fans. He was also a good man-Michelle and I will always be honored that he performed at my inauguration. We're thinking of his wife Susan, his kids, and everyone who is missing him today."

Mike Bloomberg

"No matter what he said about leaving his heart somewhere out west, Anthony Benedetto from Astoria always saved his greatest love for his hometown. Besides being one of the world's greatest singers, Tony Bennett was humble and gracious, loyal and generous. He and his wife Susan founded a terrific public school for young artists in Queens, and I was honored to be introduced by him on its stage at the 2010 State of the City address. We're going to miss Tony dearly, but as his foundation continues to help students explore the arts and pursue their dreams, his inspiring legacy will live on."

U.S. Army

"Rest in peace, Soldier. You led, 'The Good Life. #TonyBennett, who died today at age 96, was a #USArmy veteran. We salute his service to the Nation and his iconic career as a singer."

Alzheimer's Association

"The Alzheimer's Association joins the world in mourning the loss of Tony Bennett, a great friend and champion of the cause. For decades, Tony inspired the world with his music and, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, he continued to use that powerful voice to make a very real difference in inspiring action and change," said Joanne Pike, DrPH, president and CEO, Alzheimer's Association. "For the Bennett family, and the millions of others impacted by Alzheimer's and dementia, we will continue our work of increasing awareness and education, providing families support, and advancing research and treatments, to slow, stop and ultimately, cure Alzheimer's disease."

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