Happy 94th Birthday, Tony Bennett!

gjmalcyon

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Westerly Wood

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Real interesting read on Bennett's years of struggle and comeback with help of his family. From Wikipedia.

1965–1979: Years of struggle
Ralph Sharon and Bennett parted ways in 1965. There was great pressure on singers such as Lena Horne and Barbra Streisand to record "contemporary" rock songs, and in this vein, Columbia Records' Clive Davis suggested that Bennett do the same. Bennett was very reluctant, and when he tried, the results pleased no one. This was exemplified by Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today! (1970), before which Bennett became physically ill at the thought of recording. It featured misguided attempts at Beatles and other current songs and a ludicrous psychedelic art cover.

Years later, Bennett would recall his dismay at being asked to do contemporary material, comparing it to when his mother was forced to produce a cheap dress. By 1972, he had departed Columbia for the Verve division of MGM Records (Philips in the UK) and had relocated for a stint in London, where he hosted a television show from the Talk of the Town nightclub in conjunction with Thames Television, Tony Bennett at the Talk of the Town.With his new label, he tried a variety of approaches, including some more Beatles material, but found no renewed commercial success, and in a couple more years he was without a recording contract.

Bennett and his wife Patricia had been separated since 1965, their marriage a victim of Bennett's spending too much time on the road, among other factors. In 1969, Patricia sued him for divorce on grounds of adultery. In 1971, their divorce became official. Bennett had become involved with aspiring actress Sandra Grant while filming The Oscar in 1965; the couple lived together for several years, and on December 29, 1971, they quietly married in New York. They had two daughters, Joanna (born 1970) and Antonia (born 1974), and moved to Los Angeles.

Taking matters into his own hands, Bennett started his own record company, Improv. He cut some songs that would later become favorites, such as "What is This Thing Called Love?", and made two well-regarded albums with jazz pianist Bill Evans, The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album (1975) and Together Again (1976),but Improv lacked a distribution arrangement with a major label and by 1977, it was out of business.

As the decade neared its end, Bennett had no recording contract, no manager, and was not performing many concerts outside of Las Vegas. His second marriage was failing; they separated in 1979 with her filing for divorce (but when the marriage officially ended is unclear – some people say the marriage was dissolved by court order on July 1, 1983, but there are other reports saying the divorce papers did not become official until 2007). He had developed a drug addiction, was living beyond his means, and had the Internal Revenue Service trying to seize his Los Angeles home. He had hit bottom.

1979–1989: Turnaround[edit]
After a near-fatal cocaine overdose in 1979, Bennett called his sons Danny and Dae for help. "Look, I'm lost here," he told them. "It seems like people don't want to hear the music I make."

Danny Bennett, an aspiring musician himself, also came to a realization. The band Danny and his brother had started, Quacky Duck and His Barnyard Friends, had foundered and Danny's musical abilities were limited. However, he had discovered during this time that he did have a head for business. His father, on the other hand, had tremendous musical talent, but was having trouble sustaining a career from it and had little financial sense. Danny signed on as his father's manager.

Danny got his father's expenses under control, moved him back to New York, and began booking him in colleges and small theaters to get him away from a "Vegas" image. After some effort, a successful plan to pay back the IRS debt was put into place. The singer had also reunited with Ralph Sharon as his pianist and musical director (and would remain with him until Sharon's retirement in 2002). By 1986, Tony Bennett was re-signed to Columbia Records, this time with creative control, and released The Art of Excellence. This became his first album to reach the charts since 1972.
 

Westerly Wood

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Walrus, thanks for posting about Tony's bday, I am listening to his 1963 I Wanna Be Around album. It is fantastic.
 
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