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Elton John, Berry Gordy, Scorsese and more friends and admirers of Tony Bennett react to his death

By The Associated Press

Reaction to the death of Tony Bennett at age 96:

“So sad to hear of Tony’s passing. Without doubt the classiest singer, man, and performer you will ever see. He’s irreplaceable. I loved and adored him. Condolences to Susan, Danny and the family.” — Sir Elton John, via Instagram.

“I love being able to take lessons from someone like Tony. And one of the great lessons, I think, is to be strong in the conviction of who you are and strong enough to stay true to that because tastes change, times change. But if you know what you’re doing and you have confidence in that and integrity, the world will find you. — Michael Bublé in an interview.

“Goodnight, #TonyBennett. Thank you for your commitment to love, civil rights, and a better world.” And: “ #TonyBennett was a national and global treasure who utilized his platform as a legendary performer to stand for Civil Rights. In 2002, @ TheKingCenter, under my mother’s leadership, awarded him our Salute to Greatness Award. It was our honor to honor Mr. Bennett.” — Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., via Twitter.

“His was a unique voice that made the transition from the era of Jazz into the age of Pop. I will always be grateful for his outstanding contribution to the art of contemporary music. He was a joy to work with. His energy and enthusiasm for the material he was performing was infectious. He was also one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known.” — Billy Joel, in a statement.’

“Tony Bennett’s life was legendary. And his contributions to the arts in America will endure. Jill and I have been fans of Tony’s music for a long time — not only because of his beautiful voice, but also the joy that he brought to everything he did.” — President Joe Biden, in a statement.

“Tony Bennett was an iconic songwriter and entertainer who charmed generations of fans. He was also a good man—Michelle and I will always be honored that he performed at my inauguration. We’re thinking of his wife Susan, his kids, and everyone who is missing him today.” — Former president Barack Obama, via Twitter.

“Tony Bennett was a consummate artist. All you have to do is listen to any one of his hundreds of recordings to recognize that. Very early on, his music quietly wove itself into the fabric of our lives. His voice felt as familiar and as close as the voices of our loved ones. I know that this was true for millions of people around the world. For Italian-Americans who were growing up in the middle of the twentieth century, that familiarity ran even deeper. At a certain point, we started to imagine that Tony would live forever. Of course he didn’t. Nobody does. But the music? That’s another story.” — Martin Scorsese, in a statement.

“Tony was one of the most splendid people who ever lived. Kind, loving, talented and generous, he never let us down. Sending my love to Susan, Danny and their family and friends. Tony was a true champion.” — Nancy Sinatra, via Twitter.

“Rest in peace, Tony. You were the epitome of a gentleman with a God given one-of-a-kind voice. It was truly a great honor of my career and of my life to get to share the stage with you…” — Carrie Underwood, duet partner on “It Had to Be You,” via Instagram.

“Tony Bennett was one of the true greats — an icon, legend, and masterful interpreter of the great American Songbook. For over 70 years, his artistry and ‘cool’ wove himself into our hearts and culture. We loved him at Motown, and in 1967 when he recorded one of our songs, ‘For Once In My Life,’ we were thrilled and honored. His music and legacy will live on forever.” — Motown founder Berry Gordy, in a statement.

“RIP Tony Bennett. The best of the best. The last of the legends. A man whose heart was as big as his voice. The world’s foremost practitioner of the ‘Art of Excellence.’ Deepest love and condolences to my friend Danny and the family.” — Stevie Van Zandt, via Twitter.

“Sending my prayers for and condolences to the family of #TonyBennett whose legendary career spanned seven decades. He marched with us in 1964. He was dedicated to civil and human rights and to the arts. He will lives as long as we remember him. #IleftmyheartinSanFrancisco.” — Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., via Twitter.

“We loved and admired Tony Bennett and marveled at the breadth of his talent and depth of his commitment to creating a better world. … We will always be personally grateful to Tony for performing at the 1993 Inaugural and for lending his talents, time and again, to support the work of the Clinton Foundation. With his singular voice and generous spirit, he lived his remarkable life with perfect pitch.” — former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in a statement.

“This one shouldn’t sting so much because any of us would take 96 years, but man is it hard to imagine a world without the great Tony Bennett.” — actor Josh Gad, via Twitter.

“The world was a better place with Tony Bennett at the microphone in a tuxedo, singing. To one of the kindest, most loving people I’ve ever known… Rest in peace, dear Tony.” — actor and comedian Ruth Buzzi, via Twitter.

“There’s no greater champion of the American songbook. If it’s Gershwin, if it’s Cole Porter, if it’s Rodgers and Hammerstein – that’s Tony Bennett. And the wonderful thing about what he did is connected people so powerfully through what I think is the greatest connector, music, and something that will endure. Those recordings are forever.” — Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to an event Friday at the Aspen Security Forum.

“Sesame Workshop mourns the passing of Tony Bennett, who brought joy and music to millions of people around the world. Mr. Bennett joined us on Sesame Street in 1998 to turn a classic of his into a new favorite of ours.” — Sesame Street, via Twitter.

“RIP Tony Bennett. Such a big loss. Deepest sympathy to his family and the world.” — Carole King, via Instagram.

“Rest in Peace to one of the best to ever grace the stage. 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.” — guitarist Joe Bonamassa, via Twitter.

“My most heartfelt condolences go out to Tony Bennett’s family and friends. They’re also my emotional family and friends.” — producer Nile Rodgers, via Twitter.

“Ahhh, RIP Tony Bennett, truly one of the greats. The first album I had was Tony Bennett sings 10 Rodgers and Hart songs, from when my record company in 1976 let me do a ‘bank raid’ of their vinyl stock and I was a fan from there on in. An incredible singer live, saw him many times.” — musician, singer and songwriter Paul Young, via Twitter.

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