Tony Bennett Dead at 96: Anderson Cooper, Carson Daly and More Honor the Legendary Singer

After Tony Bennett died at age 96 on July 21, several stars—including Nile Rodgers, Josh Gad and Yvette Nicole Brown—paid tribute to the Grammy-winning singer.

By Elyse Dupre Jul 21, 2023 3:08 PMTags
Watch: Legendary Singer Tony Bennett Dead at 96

Tony Bennett lived the good life.

And after the singer's recent passing at age 96, stars honored his monumental legacy with moving tributes.

"My most heartfelt condolences go out to Tony Bennett's family and friends," record producer Nile Rodgers tweeted. "They're also my emotional family and friends." Added actor Josh Gad, "This one shouldn't sting so much because any of us would take 96 years, but man is it hard to imagine a world without the great Tony Bennett."

Bennett died in his hometown of New York on July 21, his publicist Sylvia Weiner confirmed in a release. He was just two weeks away from his 97th birthday at the time of his passing.

"Tony left us today but he was still singing the other day at his piano and his last song was, 'Because of You,' his first #1 hit," a message shared to his official Twitter account read. "Tony, because of you we have your songs in our heart forever." 

Tony Bennett: A Life in Pictures

Bennett is survived by his wife Susan Benedetto, sons Danny and Dae Bennett, daughters Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett and nine grandchildren. 

An official cause of death has yet to be revealed. However, Bennett's passing came after his battle with Alzheimer's disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2016. His last public concert was held at Radio City Music Hall in August 2021 with Lady Gaga, a frequent collaborator in the later years of his life.

Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images 8th Annual Exploring The Arts Gala

Over the course of his 70-plus years in the music industry, Bennett released dozens of hits, including "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," "I Wanna Be Around," "Firefly" and "The Good Life." His last album was his and Gaga's Love for Sale, which was released in 2021 and won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

The final accolade was one of the 20 Grammys Bennett received throughout his career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. He also earned two Emmys for his music programs and was named a Kennedy Center Honoree, a Gershwin Prize Honoree and a NEA Jazz Master.

To see how more stars will remember Bennett, keep reading.

Anderson Cooper: "I'll never forget the last performance that I had the privilege of being at backstage at Radio City Music Hall just a short time before he went on," the journalist, who'd covered Bennett's final performance in 2021, recalled to CNN. "He was in the back and he turned to Susan and he didn't know exactly where he was. And he said, 'What are we doing?' And she said, 'You're performing tonight in like 10 minutes.' And he said, 'Great.' And she said, 'Let's go over the set.' And he said, 'Great.'"

After reviewing the songs, Cooper continued, Bennett went over to the stage wings to watch Lady Gaga's part of the show.

"Watching Lady Gaga, you could see the music just flowing into him," he noted. "He started tapping his feet and clicking his fingers together. He went out. He killed it out there. The crowd just erupted. His first words were, ‘Wow!' And they just loved it. He did his whole set." 

Cooper also reflected on a particularly emotional moment for Lady Gaga, who admitted that Bennett had struggled to remember her name during rehearsals. The CNN host said Bennett greeted her the first two nights by saying, "Wow! Look who's here!" 

"But on that final night, when she came out and he turned and he saw her coming out, he said, ‘Wow! Lady Gaga!' And she burst into tears," Cooper shared. "I mean, everybody just burst into tears. It was just an extraordinary night. I mean, what a life we have been able to witness and benefit from over all these decades."

Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Carson Daly: "Unlike any musician in American history did he continue to tap into multiple decades somehow," The Voice host said on Today. "In 1993, he did a Fred Astaire tribute album. I wasn't at MTV yet, but it ended up in our Buzz Bin. He had a great relationship with Amy Winehouse. He struggled….He was out of it for 10 years. He had an addiction issue in the '70s, came back in his resurgence in the '80s, and just amazing."

He continued, "And it was never about Tony Bennett. It was always about the great American songbook. He was always trying to point to the Gershwins, to the Cole Porters of the world, trying to give homage toward the great songwriters that came of passing. He did such a great service to new musicians to keep the American musical legacy alive. We celebrate Tony Bennett today. He would have been 97 in two weeks. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2016. An incredible life, incredible story."

Al Roker: "I remember I got to sit down with him in his apartment off of Central Park South, and it was all about music and about his painting," the Today co-host added. "And he loved to paint. I mean, he really was truly an artist—both vocally and both visually. And I think one really did inform the other. Because as such a great painter as he was, he was a really terrific, obviously, musical [artist]."

Octavia Spencer: "The definition of a legend and gentleman," the actress wrote on Instagram. "Thank you @itstonybennett for sharing your gift and kindness with us all. Sending love to your family, friends and fans around the world."

Elton John: "So sad to hear of Tony's passing," the "Rocket Man" singer wrote on Instagram. "Without doubt the classiest singer, man, and performer you will ever see. He's irreplaceable. I loved and adored him. Condolences to Susan, Danny and the family."

Viola Davis: "Well....your journey was complete sir," the Oscar winner stated on Instagram. "Your greatness was not just measured by your talent but your influence. Generations will be inspired by your work. The angels are rejoicing today by gaining a magnificent choir member. May flights of angels......"

Kelsea Ballerini: "My dad played Tony Bennett around the house my whole childhood," the "Peter Pan" artist noted on Instagram Stories. "His music has always made me feel at home and safe. What a gift he brought to the world and what a classic, beautiful legacy he leaves forever."

Carrie Underwood: "Rest in peace, Tony," the "Blown Away" singer shared on Instagram. "You were the epitome of a gentleman with a God given one-of-a-kind voice. It was truly a great honor of my career and of my life to get to share the stage with you…"

Larry Marano/Shutterstock

Billy Joel: "Tony Bennett was the one of the most important interpreters of American popular song during the mid to late 20th century," the "Piano Man" star wrote in an Instagram tribute. "He championed songwriters who might otherwise have remained unknown to many millions of music fans. His was a unique voice that made the transition from the era of Jazz into the age of Pop. I will always be grateful for his outstanding contribution to the art of contemporary music. He was a joy to work with. His energy and enthusiasm for the material he was performing was infectious. He was also one of the nicest human beings I've ever known."

Pauley Perrette: "Oh my….#TonyBennett," the NCIS alum wrote on Instagram. "Because I was at the #grammys like 6 years in a row and met everyone…I am often asked
'Who is the nicest?'. Top three? @taylorswift #taylorswift @davestruestories #davegrohl And yes of course…@itstonybennett Tony coming up to me and what he said to me is still one of the most incredible unbelievable things that happened to me while wandering through the entertainment industry. I'll probably put it in my book (it's coming) He was as Magical Beautiful Graceful Funny Warm Amazing As you'd hope. I was blessed to share space with him.#RIP MAN And thanks." 

Brooke Shields: "You will be forever missed, Tony," the actress tweeted. "Your legacy will live on forever, not just for your music, but for your painting and for your heart. I adore you. May you rest easy. #tonybennett @itstonybennett."

Gloria Estefan: "I've been a fan of the incomparable @itstonybennett since I was a child," the "Conga" artist wrote on Instagram. "With his velvet voice he made me long for San Francisco when I couldn't even find it on a map and, throughout his lifetime, has beautified our world with his songs and paintings. His voice was forever young, pristine, elegant and relevant for longer than any other singer I can think of. I will be forever grateful to have been in his orbit. My prayers & condolences to his beautiful family who have loved and cared for him and for his countless fans throughout the world who will keep his memory alive."

John Wesley Shipp: "#TonyBennett August 3, 1926 - July 21, 2023," the Dawson's Creek alum tweeted. "Now is a time to honor this legend, as many of us remember moments we were fortunate to have with him. This is mine on the set of #astheworldturns at the moment he began recording Gold records again! in the late 80s. #ATWT."

George Takei: "The great Tony Bennett has passed away at the age of 96," the Star Trek alum tweeted. "He was the last of his kind, a master of the American songbook. He may have left his Heart in San Francisco, but he won all of our hearts, from Sinatra to Lady Gaga. Be at peace, and sing to us now from the stars, Tony."

Josh Gad: "This one shouldn't sting so much because any of us would take 96 years," the actor tweeted, "but man is it hard to imagine a world without the great Tony Bennett."

Yvette Nicole Brown: "Ninety-six is a long life but I still thought he'd live forever #RIPTonyBennett," the actress tweeted. "#TonyBennett, the Gold Standard of Singers Everywhere, Dies at 96 - The Hollywood Reporter."

Paul Young: "Ahhh, RIP Tony Bennett, truly one of the greats," the musician tweeted. "The first album I had was Tony Bennett Sings 10 Rodgers and Hart Songs, from when my record company in 1976 let me do a ‘bank raid' of their vinyl stock and I was a fan from there on in. An incredible singer live, saw him many times."

Niles Rodgers: "My most heartfelt condolences go out to Tony Bennett's family and friends," the record producer tweeted. "They're also my emotional family and friends."

Eric Adams: "A working class kid from Queens, Tony Bennett sang our song to the world," the New York City mayor tweeted. "Don't let the lyrics fool you – he left is heart right here in New York City. May he rest in peace."

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