22 July 2023

Paul McCartney says working with ‘good friend’ Tony Bennett was a ‘privilege’

22 July 2023

Sir Paul McCartney has spoken of the “privilege” he felt working with “special singer and good friend” Tony Bennett.

The 96-year-old, best known for his 1962 classic I Left My Heart In San Francisco, died in his home city of New York on Friday.

Tributes have continued to pour in from musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Mariah Carey and Sir Paul along with US President Joe Biden and former American leader Barack Obama.

In a Saturday Instagram post, Sir Paul wrote: “Very sad to hear that Tony Bennett has died. He was a special singer and a good friend.

“I was privileged to work with him on a few occasions and he was always a wonder to behold. Thanks Tony for the joy you brought to our world. Love Paul.”

In 2006, Bennett collaborated with stars including Sir Paul, Sir Elton John, Stevie Wonder and George Michael on his album titled Duets: An American Classic.

Emily Eavis, co-organiser of Glastonbury festival, talked about how, when he played Worthy Farm in 1998, he was “impeccably dressed” despite the wet and muddy conditions.

She added: “He played an incredible set, we were all entranced, he was so gracious and charming on stage. What a gentleman and amazing showman he was.”

Strictly Come Dancing judge Anton Du Beke also took to social media to say the “wonderful, charismatic, legendary” Bennett performing on the BBC celebrity competition show as he danced was an “honour”.

Bennett also worked with Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin along with Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga, who both featured on his Duets II record which topped the charts.

In a statement, Mr Biden said: “(My wife) Jill and I have been fans of Tony’s music for a long time – not only because of his beautiful voice, but also the joy that he brought to everything he did.

“We send our deepest condolences to his family and fans around the world.”

The President also recalled that as a foot soldier in the Second World War, Bennett helped liberate prisoners in a subcamp of Dachau concentration camp.

He later became a life-long pacifist and humanitarian, who would join the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

The singer was known as one of the last of the great saloon singers of the mid-20th century, releasing more than 70 albums during his career which won him a host of Grammys.

Bennett, then aged 88, broke his own record as the oldest living performer with a number one album on the US Billboard 200 chart for his duet project with Gaga titled Cheek To Cheek.

In an Instagram post on Saturday, Grammy award-winning Blues musician Bonnie Raitt wrote: “One of the greatest singers of all time, and one of the warmest, most joyful and evolved people I’ve ever known.

“One of the honors of my lifetime was getting to duet with him on his Bennett Sings The Blues album back in 2001.

“My love and sympathy go out to his family and don’t we know there’ll be some swingin’ on high when Tony passes through those gates.”

Bennett retired from performing in 2021 after revealing he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016.

The wife of Bruce Willis, an American actor who has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), said Bennett “shining a bright light on this disease” will “forever be so meaningful and impactful”.

Emma Heming Willis, who met the singer alongside her husband, wrote on Instagram: “I especially applaud the final chapter of his career, as he continued to dazzle and elicit nothing but joy and excitement performing selflessly despite his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

“It was a beautiful reminder that we should never allow society to dictate or dismiss anyone because of their cognitive challenges but instead provide the room for them to flourish.”

Bennett is survived by his wife, Susan Benedetto, his two sons, Danny and Dae Bennett, his daughters Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett and nine grandchildren, according to his publicist Sylvia Weiner.

On Friday, former US first lady Hillary Clinton, American singer Christina Aguilera, US singer Carey, Nile Rodgers, Nancy Sinatra, daughter of Frank Sinatra, Carrie Underwood, Sir Elton and Australian country singer Keith Urban also remembered the singer.

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