|Real Name:||Anthony Dominick Benedetto|
|Birthday:||August 3, 1926|
|Net Worth:||$200 million
|Occupation:||American Jazz Singer, Painter|
Frank Sinatra once said, “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business”. And he might be right. Tony excites you when you watch him sing. Tony Bennett is an American singer with 19 Grammy wins. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his success got guaranteed. And then in the 1990s, he surprised everyone with his newfound energy.
With more than 90 years under his belt, Tony still goes strong. The iconic singer is now in his third marriage. And as of August 2020, Tony Bennett’s wealth is over $200 million. Let’s take a look at his career journey.
Career Ups and Downs
Born in 1926 in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York, Tony is the first family member to get born in a hospital. He and other siblings grew up in poverty. His father instilled the love for art, literature, and all things nice in him. But he passed away when Tony was 10 years old. Growing up in the Great Depression made a lifelong impression on Tony. And it made him a lifelong Democrat.
The young Bennett grew up listening to Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and jazz artists like Louis Armstrong. His uncle was a tap dancer. And that gave him early access and window into show business. By the age of 10, Tony already sang. He even performed at the opening of the Triborough Bridge.
At the age of 13, Tony began singing for money. He performed as a singing waiter in Italian restaurants around Queens. Bennett attended New York’s School of Industrial Art. There, he studied painting and music. But he had to drop out of school at 16 to support his family.
Tony got drafted into the United States Army in November 1944. That was during the last stages of World War II. He did fight in cold winter conditions and sometimes hunkered down in foxholes. Upon his discharge from the Army, the young singer returned to the USA and studied at the American Theatre Wing on the GI Bill.
In 1949, his career started to take off. Pearl Bailey recognized his talent and asked him to open for her in Greenwich Village. Bob Hope saw him and took him on the road with him. He was the one to simplify his name from Tony Benedetto to Tony Bennett.
In 1950, Tony cut a demo of Boulevard of Broken Dreams and signed with Columbia Records. Many warned him to try and don’t imitate Frank Sinatra. At the time, Sinatra left Columbia. So, Bennett began his career as a crooner of commercial pop tunes. He recorded his first big hit Because of You, a ballad with a lush orchestral arrangement.
The song quickly gained popularity in jukeboxes and reached Number 1 on the pop charts in 1951. It sold more than a few million copies.
In February 1952, Tony got married for the first time to jazz fan Patricia Beech. He recorded his third Number 1 hit by 1953 with Rags to Riches. Tony got hit with the rock and roll era in the 1950s. The dynamic of the music industry changed completely. This made it harder for pop singers to perform commercially. But Bennett was one of the few enjoying success. He placed eight songs in the Billboard Top 40 during the 1950s.
His music continued to improve. He met Chuck Wayne, a guitarist. He hired him to serve as a musical director. Under his guidance, he released the album Cloud 7, with obvious signs of leaning toward jazz. Tony envisioned a world where jazz music will take over. That is why he released The Beat of My Heart in 1957 with popular jazz musicians.
At the same time, he built up the quality and reputation of his nightclub act. He followed the path of Sinatra and other jazz singers of the era.
In June 1962, he staged a highly promoted concert at the Carnegie Hall. He invited musicians like AL Cohn, Candido, Ralph Sharon Trio, and Kenny Burrell for his lineup.
By the end of the 1960s, The Beatles arrived. Again, they completely changed the dynamic of music. Rock music took over, leaving less room for jazz and pop singers. That is why Bennett had a few minor hits in the following years.
It is an understatement to say he struggled from 1965 to 1979. He felt the pressure to record contemporary rock songs. The results were awful. He left Columbia and signed with MGM Records. And then he started his own record company, Improv. At the end of the decade, he had no recording contract, no manager, and didn’t perform outside of Las Vegas.
His rock bottom came in 1979. After a near-fatal cocaine overdose, he called Danny and Dae for help. Danny Bennett, a good musician came to help him. They helped him put expenses under control, and helped their father get back to playing. In the beginning, they booked him in colleges and small theaters. That helped get him away from the Vegas image.
And the recipe proved successful. The younger audience that didn’t know Tony Bennett loved his music. To them, his old songs were different. The highlight of his new look came at the MTV Video Music Awards. He performed side by side with Red Hot Chili Peppers and similar artists.
After his comeback in the early 1990s, Bennett improved his finances. At the time, Tony Bennett’s fortune was between $15 and $20 million. That is a far cry from his current bank account.
And he continued performing well into his 70s and 80s. Tony used a quote by Pablo Picasso, “right up until you die, you perform”. And as you get older, you get more creative.
In his later years, Bennett loved playing one song without a microphone or amplification. That showed his skills at vocal projection.
He turned 80 years in August 2006. And in his own fashion, he celebrated with an album. Tony released Duets: An American Classic, reaching the highest album place in his career. He even won two Grammy Awards with that album.
Bennett always says he didn’t want to make contemporary music. In one interview, he said “I never sing contemporary for the big record companies. I do not follow the latest fashions”.
He got married three times in his life. His third and current wife is Susan Crow. The two got married in 2007.
Awards and Achievements
Tony Bennett is one of the most decorated singers. He has two Emmy awards in his bag. And he won 19 Grammy Awards with many more nominations.
Some of his Grammys include traditional pop vocal album, pop duo/group performance, pop collaboration with vocals, and duets.
Accolades came easy to Bennett. And for his contribution to the recording industry, Tony got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He got inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997. He also won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.
Tony Bennett was once at the brick of bankruptcy. But he got back on his feet. Following the disaster in the 1970s, he rebounded with music for the younger population. In total, he released 11 Live albums, 3 video albums, 31 compilation albums, and 57 studio albums.
Tony sold more than 50 million records worldwide during his career. He also sold out hundreds of concerts and shows. For many years, he performed at Vegas regularly.
As of August 2020, Tony Bennett wealth is more than $200 million.