Tony Bennett, York Barbican, September 7

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

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Name: Tony Bennett

Occupation: American crooner, still singing, still touring, still painting daily, at 88.

Born: Astoria, Queens, New York, August 3, 1926. Father died when Tony was ten.

Birth name: Anthony Dominick Benedetto.

Education: High School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan.

Alternative education: Listening to radio, he developed his love of Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and James Durante.

Teenage days: Sang while waiting on tables. Enlisted in the Army during the Second World War, performing with military bands while serving in Europe.

Further education: Had vocal studies at American Theatre Wing School.

First nightclub show: 1946, when he sat in with trombonist Tyree Glenn at Shangri-La in Astoria.

Big break: In 1949, comedian Bob Hope noticed him working with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village and Hope said, "Come on kid, you’re going to come to the Paramount and sing with me."

Goodbye Bari, hello Bennett: "Bob Hope told me he didn’t care for my stage name [Joe Bari] and asked me what my real name was. I told him, ‘My name is Anthony Dominick Benedetto’ and he said, ‘We’ll call you Tony Bennett’."

First recording: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, April 17 1950.

Early hits: String of Columbia singles in early 1950s, such as American chart-toppers Because Of You, Rags To Riches and cover of Hank Williams's Cold, Cold Heart.

The best of Bennett: I Wanna Be Around; The Good Life; Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me); signature song I Left My Heart In San Francisco, winner of two Grammy Awards.

More awards: 17 Grammys, including 1995 Record of the Year for MTV Unplugged and Lifetime Award. 2007 prime-time special Tony Bennett: An American Classic won seven Emmys.

Landmarks since 2000: Sang at The Queen’s Golden Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in 2002. Released Duets: An American Classic in 2006, marking his 80th birthday by recording with Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Sting and Bono. Repeated project for 85th birthday in 2011, singing Duets II with Michael Bublé, Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban, Lady Gaga, John Mayer and Amy Winehouse in her last recording, Body And Soul. Entered Billboard charts at number one; making him the only artist to do so at 85. Sold ten million records in the past ten years. His albums now add up to more than 105.

Keeping it in the family: Son and manager Danny Bennett made 2012 documentary on his father, The Zen Of Bennett.

Honours: Kennedy Center Honoree, 2005; NEA Jazz Master, 2006; United Nations award for Citizen of the World, 2007; Billboard Magazine Century Award for outstanding contributions to music.

Bennett, the author: Wrote fourth book, Life Is A Gift, his philosophies on his life and career, in 2012.

Bennett, the painter: Interest in art began in childhood; continues to paint every day, even on tour. Exhibited worldwide. Portrait of his friend Duke Ellington became part of Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s collection in 2009.

Humanitarian concerns: Raised millions for Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, which established research fund in his name. Each year, an original Bennett painting graces American Cancer Society’s annual holiday greeting card. Active in environmental concerns and social justice.

Did you know? Marched with Dr Martin Luther King in 1965 civil rights march to Selma, Alabama. Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta bestowed its Salute to Greatness Award on him for fighting racial discrimination.

Did you know too? He has performed for ten Presidents of the United States.

Cartoon cameo: He was the first celebrity cameo on The Simpsons.

Education work: Founded Exploring The Arts (ETA) with wife Susan Benedetto, a former public school teacher, to strengthen role of the arts in public high school education. Established Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in 2001 in Astoria.

Louis Armstrong on Bennett: "If Tony Bennett who swings wonderfully can’t send you, there’s a psychiatrist right up the street from you. Dig him.”

President Bill Clinton on Bennett: “Tony Bennett has somehow kept his unique voice, with its beauty and range, its strength and style, and still in perfect pitch. But as talented as he is, Tony’s most impressive quality is his giving spirit."

New York Magazine on Bennett: "No one else on earth can make a lyric written eight decades ago sound as natural as a conversation at a coffee shop.”

Bennett on Bennett: "I paint every day and I've still got my voice. I'm in good health and I'm still learning. I heard somebody being asked once if they were going to retire and they said, 'Retire to what?'. That's how I feel." Quote from Yorkshire Post, August 29, 2014.

Where and when will he be singing in York this weekend? York Barbican, Sunday, 8pm, in his first show in the city. Tickets are still available at £45 to £75 on 0844 854 2757 or at yorkbarbican.co.uk

Coming next: After he surprised his 2014 Montreal Jazz Festival audience by welcoming Lady Gaga to the stage for “a few special songs”, Tony B and Lady G will release Cheek To Cheek album of jazz standards on September 22.

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