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Tony Bennett: Before the Good Life

Lousy gigs, mob ties & other tales: an excerpt from David Evanier's new bio

Tony Bennett at L.A.'s Capitol Studios, February 2011
Tony Bennett and fans, 1947. Photo courtesy of Wiley
Tony Bennett with his mother in 1945. Photo courtesy of Wiley

Tony Bennett’s latest album, Duets II (Columbia), moved 179,000 units in its first week, catapulting it to the top of the Billboard albums chart and making the 85-year-old artist the oldest performer in history to receive that honor. It was his first No. 1 LP, a credit to the project’s all-star assemblage of collaborators-Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, in her last recording appearance, among them-and to the main attraction’s inimitable style, gracious charm and cross-generational appeal.

But Bennett’s status as America’s greatest living crooner has been hard-earned. In this excerpt from the new biography All the Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett (Wiley), author David Evanier recounts the singer’s formative years, from the discouraging days following his military service through Mafia support and a career-changing encounter with Bob Hope.

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