The world is mourning the loss of a musical icon.
Tony Bennett, the chart-topping singer who shattered records with his nearly 70-year career, has died at the age of 96. The musician's longtime publicist Sylvia Weiner confirmed Bennett's death to NBC News July 21. Details on his cause of death are unknown at this time, but he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2016.
Born in Queens, New York in 1926, Bennett was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944 and returned to the U.S. in 1946. Following his discharge, Bennett embarked on what would become an astounding musical career, which he began as an opening act for singer Pearl Bailey in 1949.
Bennett's career took off with his 1951 hit, "Because of You," and skyrocketed from there, with the musician releasing over 70 albums throughout his career.
In addition to winning 20 Grammy Awards, including an honorary Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award presented in 2001, Bennett was also the recipient of two Primetime Emmy Awards (for performances in 1996 and 2007, respectively). He also helmed his own Saturday-night television variety show on NBC called The Tony Bennett Show in 1956.
Gaga—whose collaborations with the legend include their 2014 album Cheek to Cheek, followed by Love for Sale released seven years later—praised Bennett in his latter years and often credited him as being a mentor, especially during a time in her life she remembered feeling "sad" about the prospect of her music career.
"I couldn't sleep," she told Parade Magazine in 2014. "I felt dead. And then I spent a lot of time with Tony. He wanted nothing but my friendship and my voice."
But the close bond had more of impact than just friendship, as Gaga shared that Bennett served as an inspiration for a new chapter in life.
"The other day, Tony said, ‘I've never once in my career not wanted to do this,'" she continued. "It stung. Six months ago, I didn't feel that way. I tell Tony every day that he saved my life."
In fact, the Artpop singer learned a great deal from the music titan—and for her, it was Bennett's remarkable presence that stood out the most.
"I learned very quickly that you always follow the wisest person in the room," she told Jazzwax.com in 2021. "And that was always Mr. Bennett. And he empowered me, and my young friends that play jazz, to join him and his band, as well as the orchestra, to create a stage performance that crossed generations. There are 60 years between me and Tony. And we spanned those years, and we did it together."
Love for Sale served as Bennett's final album and broke a Guinness World Record title, as the musician became the oldest person to release an album including new material at the age of 95. He also went on to break the individual record for the longest span of top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 chart for any living artist at the time.
In February 2021, Bennett's family revealed he had been battling Alzheimer's disease for years prior. Bennett's last televised performance was alongside Gaga for MTV Unplugged in December 2021.
Bennett is survived by his wife of 16 years, Susan Crow, sons Danny and Dae Bennett and daughters Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett.
Keep reading to revisit his life in pictures...