Legendary US singer, Tony Bennett passes away at age 96

Legendary American pop and jazz  singer, Tony Bennett has passed away at the age of 96.

Tony Bennett became the torchbearer for the Great American Songbook during a seven-decade career.

His death was confirmed by his publicist Sylvia Weiner, who said he died in his hometown of New York and there was no specific cause of death.

Bennett, who collaborated with Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga in the last chapter of his astonishing career, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.

Pay tribute to the late Icon, Former US first lady Hillary Clinton described Bennett as a “true talent, a true gentleman, and a true friend”. She tweeted: “We’ll miss you, Tony, and thanks for all the memories.”

During a career that spanned eight decades, the crooner sold millions of records and won 20 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award.

Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, to a family of Italian immigrants, Bennett was just 10 years old when his father died, plunging the family into poverty.

As a teenager he became a singing waiter before enrolling to study music and painting at New York’s School of Industrial Art

He was drafted into the US Army in 1944 to fight in France and Germany towards the end of World War Two. “It’s legalised murder,” he said of the scarring experience in an interview with the Guardian in 2013.

After returning home, his singing career continued – first under the name Joe Bari – and his breakthrough came in 1951 with the song Because of You, which gave him his first number-one.

Bennett soon became a teenage icon, releasing his first album in 1952.

The same year his wedding was besieged by female fans in mourning.

He went on to chart in the US in every subsequent decade of his life, building a reputation for making timeless swinging pop hits – like Blue Velvet and Rags to Riches – and, later, show tunes and big band numbers.

He is survived by four children: Danny and Dae from his marriage to Beech, and Joanna and Antonia from his second marriage to Sandra Grant Bennett, who he separated in 1979. He has been married to Susan Crow, 40 years his junior, since 2007.

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