Tony Bennett: More Than a ‘Crooner’

It was in the early ’60s. I was a copy boy at NBC News and the overnight disc jockey for the local radio station called and asked if I’d like to go on a boat ride down the Potomac River with his guest, Tony Bennett.

For several hours we cruised past some of Washington’s most famous landmarks. Tony let me take a picture of him, shirtless and with a big smile on his face. He later signed it and I have kept it framed in my office ever since.

Bennett, who died last week at 96, was labeled in various obituaries as the “last of the crooners.” He was more than a crooner. While many singers have nice voices, not all can interpret songs the way Tony did. His talent and material spanned several generations. While in later years he teamed up with contemporary singers like Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Michael Buble and even Willie Nelson, he never compromised on the quality of his work, or tried to become something he was not. Proof of his cross-generational appeal was his “re-discovery” by college-age students. You could hear every word and the way he sang them contained a power to stir up

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