Tony Bennett Quotations

Tony Bennett, who is widely considered to be one of the best singers of the past two centuries, is an American icon who saw his career decline in the 70’s with the advent of rock and roll. Keeping true to his repertoire of popular and jazz standards, however, Bennett staged a successful comeback in the 90’s, expanding his audience to a younger generation and singing with popular artists such as Christina Aguilera, Sheryl Crow and k.d. lang. (Lower case as she prefers.)

Frank Sinatra once said of Bennett, “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business. He excites me when I watch him. He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more.”

Image: Photograph of musician, Tony Bennett singing on stage

In the early 1990’s, Danny Bennett, Tony Bennett’s eldest son and manager revitalized his father’s career by having him perform to much younger audiences including ‘Late Night with David Letterman on NBC’. The younger Bennett said:

“It wasn’t like everybody did that show.”  “He asked me, ‘Would Frank do this?’  Nope, and that’s the point.”

Immediately after a concert of duets in honor of Tony Bennett’s 80th birthday, the young pop singer Christina Aguilera commented on the experience to a reporter and then to Bennett:

“I mean, there are no words. I’m just ecstatic to be here on the stage with him.”

“I can only hope to follow in your footsteps.”

Many consider Sir James Paul McCartney to be the most financially successful musician and composer of all time. With over 100 million singles, 60 gold discs and a great many other compositions, he also holds the record, according to Guinness, of having the most covered (performed by other musicians) song of all time. ‘Yesterday’ holds the distinction of being heard on radio and television more than 7 million times. 

“On meeting Tony, I was reminded that most of the great people are nice to be with, because they don’t have anything to prove.”

“My record royalties right now are four times stronger than when I was the Madonna of my day, … Now it’s over the top. I mean the records, they all hold up through the years.”

“More than anybody else I’d like to thank Count Basie for teaching me how to perform.”

“Intimate singing had a wonderful style in the ’30s and ’40s. It came out of Broadway and the jazz of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday. But Sinatra created the best romantic era that we’ve ever had.”“The young people look great on television. They’re youthful and have a lot of zip and energy, but when you see them live, they can only do about 20 minutes because they haven’t got the training to hold an audience for an hour and a half or so.”

His mentors and friends including Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra influenced Tony Bennett’s incredibly long and successful musical career. Of his favorite song, ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco’, Tony Bennett has said:

“You think of the boys in Iraq. When I sing it, it’s like my own personal prayer on stage. Privately I wish – I wish it – I wish that everybody would get sensible enough to get the boys back home as soon as possible.”

– Tony Bennett (1926- )

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Richard J. Chandler, BA, MA Bachelor of Arts-Music & Master of Arts-Psychology