"He was the last of the greatest generation of singers and musicians" – tributes paid to Tony Bennett, who has died at the age of 96

Tony Bennett onstage in 2009
(Image credit: Jo Hale/Getty Images)

Musicians have paid tribute to Tony Bennett's remarkable talent and legacy following his passing at the age of 96 following his diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease in 2016.

Over his career, the singer released over 70 albums, sold more than 50 million records worldwide, and won 20 Grammy Awards. Love For Sale, his final studio in 2021 saw him duet with friend and fan Lady Gaga. He retired following sold-out performances with Gaga at New York's Radio City Music Hall the same year. 

Bennett's most loved performances included Body And Soul, (I Left My Heart) In San Francisco and The Way You Look Tonight. 

"Rest in Peace to one of the best to ever grace the stage," wrote Joe Bonamassa in tribute. "I was just saying that the greatest gig I had ever witnessed was Tony Bennett at North Sea Jazz in 2012. It was like dropping a needle on a record. He was the last of the greatest generation of singers and musicians."

"Anthony Dominick Benedetto, one of the GOATS, hands down, who left his heart with all of us just now," added guitarist Alex Skolnick

Chic man Nile Rodgers also expressed his sadness at the news, writing: "My most heartfelt condolences go out to Tony Bennett’s family and friends. They’re also my emotional family and friends"

Tony Bennett was a brilliant artist and a soulful, kind and loving human being

John Mayer

"The world lost a true legend today," wrote John Mayer on Instagram. "Tony Bennett was a brilliant artist and a soulful, kind and loving human being. I had the honor and pleasure of performing beside him, but it’s his act of almost unbelievable generosity that will go down as one of my life’s greatest memories: at a joint party celebrating my 30th and my father’s 80th birthday, Mr Bennett was a surprise performer who serenaded my dad with an a cappella performance of Fly Me To The Moon without so much as a microphone. He was operatic. I’d never seen or heard anyone do that, and probably never will again. It set the benchmark in my life for what a person could give of themselves without asking for anything in return. 

"There is much to remember today about this great man, and I wanted to share this story along with the many who are sharing theirs," concluded Mayer. "Rest in peace, sir, and thank you for touching my life like you did."

Perhaps the greatest compliment from a fellow musician came in Bennett's lifetime, from none other than Frank Sinatra.

"For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business. He excites me when I watch him," said Sinatra in 1 1965 Life magazine interview. "He moves me. He´s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more."

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.