Anthony Dominick Benedetto (“Tony Bennett”) was born on August 3, 1926, which makes him 91 years young! For anyone who loves music and the American Songbook, I need not go into a long biography of this tremendously talented icon.
I feature him today, in my first “SATURDAY SERENADE” column, not because of his achievements, not even because I was just treated to another live concert appearance a few nights ago. I feature him because he embodies the theme of this blog – “to add life” to our years. Obviously, attending his concerts, listening to his CDs, and gazing at his artwork adds life to MY years!
Tony Bennett’s career took a deep dive from the mid-60’s to the the early 90’s. His style was seen as ‘old fashioned,’ and he had no recording contracts and no concert dates. His first marriage ended, he remarried, then his second marriage was on the rocks, he had developed a drug addiction, and owed a LOT of money to the IRS. He had hit bottom. In 1979, a near-fatal cocaine overdose woke him up and moved him to reach out to his two sons for help, telling them “Look, I’m lost here … people don’t want to hear the music I make.” Under the wings of his son’s great foresight and efforts, Tony got straight, and made a ‘comeback’ in 1993 – presenting his beloved and beautiful American Songbook, not to his former fans, but to a new generation. To say the comeback was successful would be an understatement.
I’ve seen Mr. Bennett in concert several times over the years – in Vegas, a few times at the Hollywood Bowl, Disney Concert Hall, and, twice, at the small, La Mirada Theatre. 40 years ago, Mr. Bennett opened this little theatre. It was at the end of the first part of his career. My piano teacher and her husband took me to see the concert. This past Thursday, my husband and I returned to the La Mirada Theatre for their 40th anniversary celebration concert – Tony Bennett. As has been the case with every concert I’ve enjoyed since his comeback, there was a visible twinkle in his eye. He truly LOVES singing to an audience, and introducing ‘youngsters,’ like Lady Gaga, to this classic music. It adds “life” to his years!
This video clip was from the October 12, 2017 performance at La Mirada Theatre. Sorry for the video resolution (I need someone to give me a new iPhone!). With every song, his voice got stronger – he could have gone all night.
Tony closed his set with my favorite – “Fly Me to the Moon,” which, as he frequently does, he performed acapella – he’s still got it! [I was too busy enjoying, so this video is from another performance of this song found on YouTube.]
A few more (because you can never have enough Tony Bennett)! Dancing Cheek-to-Cheek with Lady Gaga at the Hollywood Bowl in July, 2017, followed by “Smile” at the Hollywood Bowl in 2013 (I’m SO lucky I get to see concerts at the Hollywood Bowl!).