The entertainment world lost one of its legends Friday when singer Tony Bennett died in his hometown of New York City. He was 96.
Bennett’s death was confirmed to the Associated Press by his publicist Sylvia Weiner. There was no specific cause of death given, but Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
The crooner’s official Instagram account commemorated the “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” artist’s life Friday morning.
“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,” the photo of a young Bennett was captioned. “Tony, because of you we have your songs in our heart forever.”
Social media overflowed with tributes to Bennett following news of the Grammy winner’s death.
“So sad to hear of Tony’s passing. Without doubt the classiest singer, man, and performer you will ever see,” Elton John wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of himself with Bennett. “He’s irreplaceable. I loved and adored him.”
Billy Joel praised Bennett as “one of the most important interpreters of American popular song” in his online salute.
“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,” Joel wrote. “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.”
“Tis w/ gr8 sadness, we say farewell to the late great Tony Bennett,” Fran Drescher tweeted. “He exemplified a person who was good as gold, sweet like sugar & a deeply feeling, empathic human being. I wish more had the stuff you were made of Tony. RIP.”
Prolific music producer and guitarist Nile Rodgers shared his love for “The Way You Look Tonight” singer on Twitter.
“Well….your journey was complete sir. Your greatness was not just measured by your talent but your influence. Generations will be inspired by your work,” Oscar winner Viola Davis wrote on Instagram. “The angels are rejoicing today by gaining a magnificent choir member. May flights of angels…..”
Bennett was born Aug. 3, 1926, in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, he was the third child of Giovanni Benedetto, a grocer, and his wife, Anna. He grew up in the working-class Astoria neighborhood of Queens, which Bennett once described as “a lot like a small Midwestern town.”
Starting in the clubs of Manhattan in the 1940s, Bennett rose to popularity before the advent of rock ‘n’ roll. He earned his first Grammy in 1962 for what would become his signature tune, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”