From Lady Gaga to Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett was the king of duets

Who didn’t Tony Bennett duet with?

The legendary singer was known for his Grammy-winning platinum record Duo albums that featured everyone from Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse to Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand.

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Here we celebrate the collaborative efforts of Bennett, who died Friday at age 96.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga ditched the upbeat electronic dance sound that made her popular to work with Bennett on jazz music, a genre she had been singing since she was a teenager. New Yorkers first collaborated on ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’ from Bennett’s 2011 release Duos II. The pairing was so perfect they kept recording 2014 Cheek to cheek, with Bennett and Gaga hoping to attract more children to jazz music. “[Gaga] has a large group of young people who love it, and they’ve never heard pop jazz, American classical music…and my ambition was to make this album so they could get acquainted with that music,” Bennett told The Associated Press.

Gaga said jazz was more true to its nature than pop music. “A lot of what I’ve done has been heavily self-tuned or made very electronic to fit radio, but it’s so much easier because I’m a rebel and it’s really rebellious for me to say goodbye to pop for a while and just sing pure jazz.” Gaga and Bennett recorded a second album, 2021 love for sale, which became Bennett’s final album. The project was a huge success, earning five Grammy nominations, including bids for album and record of the year.

Amy Winehouse

Singer Tony Bennett and parents of the late Amy Winehouse Mitch and Janis Winehouse receive the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "body and soul"  onstage during the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Tony Bennett with Amy Winehouse’s parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse, at the 2012 Grammy Awards.

A few months before his death, Winehouse recorded his last song: the 1930 jazz standard “Body & Soul” with Bennett. They filmed the recording; an intimate and beautiful clip of the talented performers singing tightly with passion. The song appeared on Duos II and Winehouse’s posthumous album Lioness: hidden treasures, and the collaboration won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2012 Grammys, where Winehouse’s parents accepted the honor onstage alongside Bennett during the show’s pre-air. “We shouldn’t be here. Our darling daughter should be here,” Winehouse’s father, Mitch, said after he and the singer’s mother, Janis, kissed Bennett.

List A: Part 1

To celebrate his 80th birthday, Bennett invited big-name artists to the studio to record with him. Backed by a live band, Bennett traded vocals with Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Bono, Celine Dion, George Michael, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Sting, Elvis Costello and Diana Krall for 2006. Duets: an American classic.

The album was an immediate success, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard charts and achieving gold status within a month. It won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album while Bennett’s recording with Wonder, “For Once In My Life”, won Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. But the album didn’t just include classical singers, Bennett also sang with John Legend, Michael Bublé, The Chicks, Tim McGraw, Juanes and kd lang.

List A: Part 2

If you thought Bennett gathered the best musicians in the world for his 80th birthday, just look at how he celebrated his 85th. The liberated icon Duos II in 2011 and he followed up his star-studded effort from 2006 with songs featuring Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Natalie Cole, Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, Queen Latifah, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, Faith Hill, John Mayer, Josh Groban, Alejandro Sanz, Winehouse and Gaga. Duos II Bennett has won two Grammys.

love of latin

Singing in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Bennett’s Viva Duos featured collaborations with Latin artists such as Gloria Estefan, Juan Luis Guerra, Marc Anthony, Christina Aguilera and Romeo Santos. Bennett even traveled to Vicente Fernández’s ranch in Mexico to record “Return to Me (Regresa a Mí)” with the iconic singer. Viva Duos, released in 2012, also included songs with Thalía, Chayanne, Dani Martín, Franco De Vita, Vicentico and Ricardo Arjona. Bennett said he wanted to record with Latin artists because they sing from the heart. “It’s not going away. This makes the record never sound outdated. There is a gadget that is popular for 10 weeks and then forgotten. … [but here] there was so much feeling in their performances that it will always sound great,” he told The Associated Press. “Twenty years from now, the same record will sound good because it has feeling. They all sing with so much emotion and the audience responds with so much emotion.

New York, New York

Billy Joel and Tony Bennett perform during Last Play at Shea at Shea Stadium on July 16, 2008 in Queens, NY.

Billy Joel and Bennett during “Last Play at Shea” at Shea Stadium on July 16, 2008.

To commemorate the closure of New York’s Shea Stadium in 2008, Bennett joined Billy Joel to sing “New York State of Mind”, which they also recorded for Bennett’s 2001 album. Playing With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues. New Yorkers also performed the classic track at the 2002 Grammys, where the duo was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (they lost to Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya and Pink’s “Lady Marmalade”).

Playing With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues also included duets with Ray Charles, BB King, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, kd lang and Kay Starr.

More collabs

Bennett’s career collaboration efforts also include 1961’s Tony sings for two with pianist Ralph Sharon; two albums with pianist Bill Evans — 1975s Tony Bennett’s album Bill Evans and 1977 Still together; 2002 A wonderful world with kd lang; and 2015 The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern with pianist Bill Charlap.

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