Though he left his heart in San Francisco, Tony Bennett was born and raised in New York as Anthony Benedetto. He first sang on the radio as part of the Triborough Bridge's grand opening ceremony when he was ten years old, and earned a pat on the head from Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia for his efforts. After serving in World War II, he began performing under the name Joe Bari, before a chance meeting with Pearl Bailey led to a gig opening for Bob Hope on tour; it was Hope who rechristened him Tony Bennett, a name which has since become synonymous with the Great American Songbook.
Bennett spent much of the 1950s and early '60s as one of America's top traditional pop stars, topping the charts with his debut single "Because of You" and notching additional #1 hits with "Rags to Riches" and "Cold, Cold Heart," the latter a cover of the Hank Williams tune and an early instance of the Queens native's omniverous musical taste. Ironically, by the time Bennett released "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," the Gold-certified 1961 single that would go on to become his signature song, his star was on the decline, and by the end of the decade, he'd been thoroughly supplanted on the charts by a younger generation of rock and rollers and soul stars.
But Tony never stopped working, or growing as an artist; in fact, it was during the wilderness years of the '60s and '70s that he grew from a traditional pop singer into the jazz artist he's recognized as today.
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