Tony Bennett recorded his first number 1 record in 1951 and continued to make hits through the 1950s. Unlike most pre rock and roll stars, Bennett managed to continue his career when rock changed everything, and experienced a resurgence in popularity beginning in the 1990s.
Bennett grew up in Queens, the son of Italian immigrant parents. Encouraged to pursue his artistic interests of singing and painting from an early age, Bennett sang while waiting on tables as a teen, before enlisting and serving in the Army in World War II. His first appearance as a nightclub singer came in 1946, and in 1949 Bob Hope discovered him working in New York. Hope immediately invited Bennett to come and record at Paramount records and suggested the stage name that stuck through the decades – Tony Bennett which is a shortened version of Anthony Dominick Benedetto.
Tony Bennett’s dedication to the Great American Songbook has made him a constant through the decades, performing for 11 presidents and delivering the classics to generations of listeners. After a downturn in his career in the 70s and 80s, Bennett returned to scoring Gold records after bringing financial and addiction problems under control.
Tony Bennett decided that there was a new generation of fans that would respond to his music and style – virtually unchanged – if given the chance. This was proven to be correct as exposure on MTV, late night TV and a series of alternative rock radio organized benefit concerts brought Bennett back to selling records again.
At 94, Bennett continues a career that now includes more than 70 albums, 20 Grammy wins and more than 50 million records sold.