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Who Are The Top GRAMMY Awards Winners Of All Time? Who Has The Most GRAMMYs?
From Georg Solti to U2 and Beyoncé, these are the top 22 winners in GRAMMY history through the 64th GRAMMY Awards.
Updated Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, to reflect the results of the 65th GRAMMY Awards in 2023.
With a total of 86 categories celebrating the best of pop, rock, R&B, jazz, rap, Latin, classical, Musical Theater, and more, thousands of music creators have been recognized by the GRAMMYs since its inception in 1957.
The prestige of one GRAMMY win can catapult an artist's career to the next level, but there are some who have amassed more than 10, 20 and even 30 career GRAMMY wins. Ever wonder who these elite GRAMMY winners are? Look no further. We've compiled a list of the top GRAMMY winners of all time.
Beyoncé made history at the 2023 GRAMMYs by becoming the artist with the most GRAMMY wins — ever — when she won the GRAMMY for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for her 2022 album, Renaissance. Beyoncé now counts 32 total GRAMMY wins.
Georg Solti, 31
Not only does the late conductor Georg Solti hold the record for the most GRAMMY Awards won in any genre with 31, he has the most wins in the Classical Field. Solti's last win was for Best Opera Recording for Wagner: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg for 1997.
Quincy Jones, 28
Quincy Jones' GRAMMY career as an artist/arranger/producer spans more than 10 Fields, from Children's to Jazz, Pop, Rap, R&B, and more, including his recent win for Best Music Film at the 61st GRAMMY Awards. He is also one of only 15 artists to receive the GRAMMY Legend Award.
Alison Krauss, 27
Alison Krauss holds the distinction as the female artist with the most awards in the Country Field. Krauss shares 14 of her wins with her backing band of nearly 30 years, Union Station.
Chick Corea, 27
Musician/composer Chick Corea is currently the artist with the most jazz GRAMMY wins, counting 27 GRAMMY Awards as a solo artist. Corea's Latin jazz piano stylings, compositions and arrangements have also earned him four Latin GRAMMY Awards.
Pierre Boulez, 26
Pierre Boulez earned his GRAMMYs primarily conducting the work of renowned 20th century composers such as Bela Bartók, Alban Berg and Claude Debussy. Boulez received The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
Vladimir Horowitz, 25
The late virtuoso pianist/composer Vladimir Horowitz earned GRAMMYs in every decade from the 1960s to the 1990s. He was also awarded a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 and has five recordings in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.
Stevie Wonder, 25
No stranger to the GRAMMY stage, Stevie Wonder is the only artist in GRAMMY history to win five or more awards on three separate nights. His career and GRAMMY history were celebrated on the television special "Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life — An All-Star GRAMMY Salute" in 2015.
John Williams, 25
John Williams has cashed in on cinema soundtrack classics such as Jaws, Star Wars and Schindler's List for a place among the GRAMMY elite. Of his 24 GRAMMY wins, Williams has earned 12 in the Music For Visual Media Field and six for his work on the Star Wars franchise. His most recent win came at the 60th GRAMMYs for Best Arrangement, Instrumental Or A Cappella for "Escapades For Alto Saxophone And Orchestra From Catch Me If You Can."
Tied with Kanye West for the most GRAMMY wins by a rap artist, Jay-Z has wins in each of the four Rap Field categories. Hova's blueprint for GRAMMY success includes collaborations with other artists such as Beyoncé ("Drunk In Love"), Rihanna ("Umbrella") and Justin Timberlake ("Holy Grail").
Kanye West, 24
Kanye West is neck-and-neck with Jay Z for top GRAMMY-winning rap artist, but he has often competed against himself. For example, he had two nominations (and a win) each for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song for 2012, Best Rap Album for 2011, and Best Rap Song and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group for 2007.
David Frost, 22
A giant in the Classical Field, renowned producer David Frost has won the coveted Classical Producer Of The Year GRAMMY seven times. He's also won three GRAMMYs each in the Best Classical Engineered Recording and Best Opera Recording categories over the years. Most recently, he took home two GRAMMYs at the 2023 GRAMMYs: Best Classical Solo Vocal Album and Best Opera Recording.
Led by frontman Bono, U2 hold the record for most GRAMMY wins by a rock act. Their most recent wins came in 2005, including Album Of The Year for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.
Vince Gill, 22
Singer/songwriter Vince Gill has earned 20 of his GRAMMY wins in the Country Field, the most of any artist. He earned his first GRAMMY outside of the Country Field in 2017 for Best American Roots Song for writing the Time Jumpers' "Kid Sister." He also holds the distinction of garnering the most GRAMMYs in the 1990s (14), winning one or more GRAMMYs in every year of the decade.
Henry Mancini, 20
The composer behind TV and film themes such as "Peter Gunn" and "The Pink Panther Theme," the late Henry Mancini made early GRAMMY history with a then-record five wins in one night for 1961. Mancini's popular "Moon River" and later "Days Of Wine And Roses" each won both Record and Song Of The Year.
Pat Metheny, 20
Pat Metheny is all that jazz. The guitarist earned his first GRAMMY for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal Or Instrumental for Offramp for 1982. He has earned GRAMMYs in four consecutive decades since, most recently in 2012 as the Pat Metheny Unity Band for Unity Band for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.
Al Schmitt, 20
Working on projects by artists Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Chick Corea, and Paul McCartney, among others, Al Schmitt won his 20 GRAMMYs as an engineer/mixer. Schmitt has also earned two Latin GRAMMYs and he received the Recording Academy Trustees Award in 2006.
Bruce Springsteen, 20
In addition to GRAMMY wins in every decade from the '80s through '00s, Bruce Springsteen has seen his albums Born To Run and Born In The U.S.A. inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. In 2013 the quintessential rocker was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year.
Tony Bennett, 19
An artist who truly seems to get better with age, Tony Bennett has won nine of his 18 career GRAMMYs since 2002. Including his 2015 win with Bill Charlap for The Silver Lining: The Songs Of Jerome Kern, Bennett has earned Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album honors 13 times, the most in the category's history.
Aretha Franklin, 18
Aretha Franklin reigns as the queen of R&B. She has 18 GRAMMY wins to date, five recordings in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award (1994) and a GRAMMY Legend Award (1991).
Yo-Yo Ma, 19
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has strung together 18 GRAMMY wins, earning his first in 1984 for Bach: The Unaccompanied Cello Suites. Since then he's won GRAMMYs in the Folk and World Music Fields, the latter of which came for 2016 for the Best World Music Album-winning project with his Silk Road Ensemble, Sing Me Home.
Paul McCartney, 18
Winning Best New Artist with the Beatles for 1964, Paul McCartney has gone on to earn 18 career GRAMMYs as an artist, composer and arranger. While most of McCartney's GRAMMY history lies in pop and rock, he earned two 58th GRAMMY nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for Kanye West's "All Day" with Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom.
Jimmy Sturr, 18
Out of the 25 GRAMMYs ever awarded for polka, Jimmy Sturr earned 18 of them, including 13 wins for Best Polka Album. He will likely remain the highest GRAMMY-winning polka artist in history (given the discontinuation of the category), and was "Born To Polka."
'Innervisions' At 50: Revisiting Stevie Wonder's Trailblazing, GRAMMY-Winning Album
Released on Aug. 3, 1973, the genious of 'Innervisons' was immediately apparent, and remains a lightning rod decades later. Lionel Richie and the album's producer, Robert Margouleff, share their thoughts on Stevie Wonder's GRAMMY-winning masterpiece.
The producer Robert Margouleff can't quite believe that one of his finest accomplishments is about to mark a milestone. "What anniversary is it, 50?"he marvels. "Wow, I must be really old."
Released exactly a half century ago on Aug. 3, 1973, Stevie Wonder's trailblazing Innervisons has more than stood the test of time. The nine-track Tamla Records release pushed boundaries — lyrically, musically and technologically — subsequently becoming an influential lightning rod for both Wonder's career as well as R&B and pop at large.
Innervisons' genius was apparent from its release, staying high on the charts throughout the year. The album took home multiple golden gramophones at the 16th GRAMMY Awards annual ceremony, among them Album Of The Year and Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording. Wonder also won the GRAMMY Award for Best R&B Song for "Living for the City," a call to action that still resonates to this day.
At the 1974 GRAMMYs, Wonder became the first Black artist to take home the award for Album Of The Year. On the GRAMMY stage with his younger sister, Renee, and older brother, Milton, Wonder called his siblings "the future for tomorrow, for all people." He continued, "I hope that through my music, I have given the message of my people and of the world."
Innervisions was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1999. At the 2023 GRAMMYs, Wonder offered a rousing performance of "Higher Ground" with Chris Stapelton.
"It's one of the greatest albums of our time," Motown contemporary Lionel Richie, Wonder's friend and one of the album's many admirers, tells GRAMMY.com. "Every song on the album is incredible, and it will hold the test of time with people saying the same thing 100 years from now about it."
Margouleff, who produced the album alongside the late jazz musician Malcolm Cecil, is still basking with pride about what they and Stevie accomplished. "It makes me feel like I fulfilled my destiny and have done something that's positive for our culture."
As a result, he can vividly recount the first day he and Cecil encountered Wonder. "Malcolm and I had just released our first record, and Stevie heard it and decided he wanted to meet us,"says Margouleff. "So on Memorial Day weekend in 1971, we heard him banging on our studio door."
At that time, a 21-year-old Wonder was attempting to navigate life as an adult artist after a successful Motown career during which the world fell in love with him as Little Stevie Wonder. When he began ideating Innervisions, Wonder was freshly released from his contract with Motown. The year prior, Wonder released his first self-produced song, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," and was looking to expand his sonic understanding.
Meanwhile, Margouleff and Cecil were experimenting with synthesizers and released experimental electronic music under the moniker Tonto's Expanding Head Band. According to Margouleff, "We are making all kinds of strange sounds with Tonto, and [Wonder] wanted to know about it."
It turned out to be a powerful combination: a genius artist who was looking to further define himself and two fearless electronic wizards exploring an exciting new technology. "It was just the three of us in a room, and the sounds we were creating gave him a whole new palate and put him in control of what he was doing," says Margouleff. "He'd start talking to us and we'd start cooking the soup. He'd show us a song he wrote with chords and a vocal demo; once we'd heard it, we'd say, 'What about this sound? Or that sound?'"
While Wonder played every instrument himself, Margouleff notes writing and recording with a synthesizer allowed limitless possibilities."Electronic music happens in space, so there is no architecture. Tonto had no real instruments, and Stevie was fascinated by that," he explains. "We could go to any place musically and never know where reality ended and the fantasy began. To him, that was a wonderful mystery."
In a rare interview, Wonder spoke about the importance of sonic experimentation. "The new things that are available now give me a greater ability to hear and voice sounds," he said in 1985. "And they make it a whole lot easier for a blind person to express his ideas."
The result is a collection of songs that proved monumentally influential to fellow artists. "All of the songs on Innervisions are classic Stevie," Richie says of the album. "The music and lyrics are works of art that nobody can do or come close to doing. 'Higher Ground,' 'Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing' and 'Living for the City' are my favorites from this album."
Richie points out three stand-out tracks in an album full of them: "Higher Ground" kicks off with those aforementioned synths, which are complemented by buoyant lyrics that tow a spiritual line. "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" is a Latin-influenced piano-driven ditty which harkens back to Wonders' earlier pop confections. But it was the bold, GRAMMY-winning "Living for the City" that garnered the most praise; it also marked a turning point in Wonder's career and in the depiction of American culture in pop music.
"It's just a major recording for civil rights," muses Margouleff of the chronicle of a young Black boy who hopefully ventures to New York and is eventually arrested. "At the time, only Marvin Gaye and Stevie were singing about this. Anybody can write about love, but when he writes about the political condition it's immeasurably powerful."
Wonder himself called "Living for the City" one of the three songs in his career he's most proud of. In a 1985 interview with the New York Times, he explained: "I wanted to speak out, and do it in a way where people will feel the rhythm of it, but also get the message across, in a peaceful way that's also strong."
The song also employed the use of sound effects to depict a bustling metropolis, with the team depicting the realism of having actual cops shout racial epithets at the song's protagonist. In an interview for the book Stevie Wonder, Signed, Sealed and Delivered, engineer Cecil recalled: "[Wonder] wanted genuineness, so we had to get real cops, which only happened because [Margouleff's] father was the mayor of Great Neck and he got some cops to meet us in a parking lot. We told them, 'Just say what you'd say if you were arresting a guy for drugs,' and they did the rest."
"We got where Stevie was coming from and what he was trying to say" explains Margouleff. "And we did everything in our power to encourage him."
Innervisions also features the track, "He's Misstra Know-It-All," and its pejorative view of then-President Nixon. The song showcased Wonder as a fearless critic of modern American politics as well as his relationship to the plight the country faced at the time, burdened with an unpopular President a few years before his resignation. "Take my word, please beware,"Wonder croons. "Of a man that just don't give a care, no."
While Innervisions is a lasting triumph, a shocking turn of events nearly ended Wonder's life and career only days after its release. "Stevie was listening to our mastered album in the car and got into a car accident," recalls Margouleff of the Aug. 6, 1973 incident when a log smashed through Wonder's windshield while driving in South Carolina. "He was in a coma for five days, and came out of it with a higher consciousness that comes with a near death experience. He came back a different guy in a lot of ways."
Wonder eventually fully recovered and, in the following years, would cement himself as an artist for all-time. His hot streak continued, with his follow-up album Fulfillingness' First Finale, turning more introspective and earning Wonder a second consecutive GRAMMY for Album Of The Year.
While Cecil passed away in 2021, Margouleff would go on to collaborate with the likes of future electronic stars Devo and Oingo Bongo, and is putting the finishing touches on a book dubbed Technology Drives the Art. But it was with Innervisions he experienced one of his greatest successes.
"The synth was a new paintbrush, just like AI is a new paintbrush for artists now," says Margouleff of its trailblazing technology, which has influenced an untold number of artists and helped extrapolate the modern American sound. "When it came on the scene, Stevie got it."
Most important for Margouleff was being a part of such a fruitful creative process. "It was a beautiful journey."
Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for E11EVEN
5 Takeaways From Travis Scott's New Album 'UTOPIA'
On the highly anticipated follow-up to 2018's blockbuster album 'ASTROWORLD,' Travis Scott's 'UTOPIA' turns triumph and tragedy into another euphoric world.
It's been a turbulent five-year journey for Travis Scott bridging the worlds of ASTROWORLD to UTOPIA.
Since the 2018 GRAMMY-nominated album solidified Scott as part of rap's A-list, he's endured the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Amid working on the album (which he began teasing in 2020), his 2021 iteration of Astroworld Festival resulted in a crowd crush that killed 10.
Three months later, he welcomed his second child with Kylie Jenner. Earlier this year, the pair reportedly split; just weeks before UTOPIA's arrival, Scott was cleared of any criminal liability for the Astroworld Festival incident, but civil lawsuits remain to be sorted.
Expectations were already sky-high for Scott to maintain luminary status with his ASTROWORLD follow-up. But after he experienced tragedy and heartbreak alongside triumphs and joy, Scott had all eyes on him as UTOPIA arrived on July 28. Yet, the pressure didn't seem to faze the Houston-born rapper — UTOPIA creates another euphoric world for his loyal fans.
In honor of La Flame's star-studded fourth studio LP — which is loaded with 18 features across 19 tracks — here are five early takeaways surrounding UTOPIA.
CIRCUS MAXIMUS Is UTOPIA's Visual Companion
Fans didn't know what to expect with Scott's CIRCUS MAXIMUS, which hit select theaters mere hours prior to UTOPIA. The 76-minute film — which takes its name from a UTOPIA track — serves as more of a series of music videos centered around a conversation between the rapper and producer Rick Rubin.
"You've come a long way — is the house half empty or completely empty? How are the kids? I heard there was a tragedy," Rubin asks Scott at one point, but he takes the conversation in a different direction.
The Harmony Korine-directed movie features about half of the songs from UTOPIA and includes appearances from Sheck Wes, Yung Lean and James Blake. Scott goes from DJing a colorful dance party for "MODERN JAM" to smashing chairs and nearly burning down an ancient Italian racing stadium while "FE!N" rings off.
CIRCUS MAXIMUS also allows Scott to share his rather unexpected interpretation of what UTOPIA means inside his world. "UTOPIA is not all pretty," he says in the film. "It's how you balance the idea of confrontation."
Yeezus Rises Again
Scott and Kanye West have had a longstanding musical partnership, as Scott played an integral role behind-the-scenes of West's rebellious 2013 album, Yeezus. A decade later, West's fingerprints are all over UTOPIA — even without a vocal guest appearance.
West earned production credits on "MODERN JAM," "THANK GOD," "TELEKINESIS" and "GOD'S COUNTRY." The latter two were originally on the track list for 2021's Donda before Ye passed them off to Scott to bring across the finish line.
Elsewhere, "CIRCUS MAXIMUS" is essentially a "Black Skinhead" part two; it interpolates the rugged Yeezus standout, and it was co-produced by Noah Goldstein, Ye's audio engineer for most of his career.
Trav's most blunt pledge to Kanye came on "Skitzo," which calls back to West's alleged presidential bid for 2024. "I'm loyal, b—, I got Ye over Biden," Scott candidly raps.
Drake And Travis Scott Take Aim At Their Opps Once Again
Drake and Travis Scott have proven to be a winning combination in the past with diamond-certified smashes like "SICKO MODE," and they aimed to recreate that magic with "MELTDOWN."
Right out of the gate, Drake makes a fiery statement with bars seemingly addressing Pusha T — but he's really sniping his close friend Pharrell, mirroring his shots at Kanye West in his "SICKO MODE" verse.
"I melt down the chains that I bought from yo' boss," Drake raps in reference to a Skateboard P pendant he recently purchased at an auction from Pharrell. The 6 God goes on to diss Pharrell's new position as a creative director at Louis Vuitton and claims nobody's messing with the designer brand since the 2021 death of former head Virgil Abloh.
"Give a f— about all of that heritage s—/ Since V not around, the members done hung up the Louis/ They not even wearing that s—," he continues.
Scott joined Drake in the sinister "tensions rising" theme, subliminally dissing Wonka star Timothée Chalamet, who has reportedly been dating his ex Kylie Jenner. "Chocolate AP and chocolate the Vs (Vs), got the Willy Wonka factory/Burn a athlete like it's calories, find another flame hot as me, b—," Scott spits.
While "Meltdown" may not reach the same commercial heights as "SICKO MODE," it has certainly caused a stir on social media. "Drake went crazy… I love when dude starts gettin' chippy!" Hot 97's Ebro Darden wrote on Twitter. As another fan claimed, "Rap been boring. I gotta thank Drake honestly for wanting to get back in the ring."
Scott Finally Got His Dream Collab
Perhaps one of UTOPIA's buzziest cameos comes from Beyoncé, who appears on "DELRESTO (ECHOES)." It marks a full-circle moment for Scott, too, as he has long tried to manifest a collab with his fellow Houston native, publicly declaring his hopes for a Bey team-up to Complex in 2016. (Prior to UTOPIA's release, eagle-eyed fans noticed that the newspaper cover art for "DELRESTO (ECHOES)" had been incorporated as part of Bey's Renaissance Tour decor.)
As Bey continues to ride out her RENAISSANCE groove, Scott fits in well with his hypnotic flow. And in a rather surprising twist, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon rounds out the track by pouring in his ethereal vocals behind the triumphant Hit-Boy production.
While Bey does much of the heavy lifting on "DELRESTO (ECHOES)," Scott's verse still stands out as he declares he won't give up on a new love interest. "The starry nights, they start to fade (Come on)/ At times, for miles I see your face, yeah," Scott testifies, borrowing from Kanye's "Coldest Winter" flow.
"MODERN JAM" Is The Hit Fans Will Eventually Catch On To
Scott's Ragers normally rush to collide for a sweaty moshpit when his music comes on. But with the genre-bending UTOPIA track "MODERN JAM," La Flame's moving the crowd from the mosh pit to the dance floor.
According to Kanye West fan page Donda's Place, "MODERN JAM" is a 10-year-old alternate version of the raw beat that became Yeezus' "I Am A God." Travis expertly meshes the abrasiveness of Ye's hard-hitting 808s with a groovy baseline. And with production help from Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the Teezo Touchdown-assisted track is a good bet to slow-burn its way to major chart success — even if it has a different feel than what Scott's fans are used to.
Since the beginning of Scott's career, he has been a trendsetter pushing the boundaries of what's considered mainstream hip-hop. He knows how to introduce foreign sonics in such a digestible way that it allows him to take creative risks and still thrive as a commercial titan — and UTOPIA is proof that he hasn't lost his Midas touch.
Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images
GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Alison Krauss Break The Record For Most-Awarded Female Artist In 2006
Revisit the night Alison Krauss and Union Station took home the golden gramophone for Best Country Album for 'Lonely Runs Both Ways' — a win that made Krauss the most awarded female artist at the time.
When Alison Krauss walked into the 2006 GRAMMYs ceremony, she was already one of the winningest artists with 17 GRAMMYs. But with three more impending victories, the bluegrass icon was ready to make history.
Krauss later praised her manager, Denise Stiff, and the album's engineer, Gary Paczosa, for always "doing such an amazing job."
The band also took home an award that night for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal ("Restless") and Best Instrumental Performance ("Unionhouse Branch") — marking a clean sweep for Krauss and her group.
Krauss has since won seven more golden gramophones, bringing her total to 27 to date. As of press time, Beyoncé holds the record for the most wins by a female artist — and any artist, for that matter — at 32.
Press play on the video above to watch Alison Krauss and Union Station accept the award for Best Country Album at the 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.
Photo: Larry Busacca/WireImage
Remembering Tony Bennett's Monumental Musical Legacy: "The Classiest Singer, Man, And Performer You Will Ever See"
With 19 GRAMMYs and a "once-in-a-generation" voice, Tony Bennett's undying love for the Great American Songbook made for a remarkable career. The iconic singer died on July 21, just two weeks short of his 97th birthday.
He was an integral part of the American cultural fabric, one of the music industry's shining lights, the Great American Songbook's biggest living champion and a generation-spanning one-of-a-kind talent whose iconic career stretched from radio days to the current streaming age. The death of Tony Bennett at age 96 marks the end of an era in both music and the nation at large; a legendary figure who transcended the decades with an unmatched voice and a burning passion for the music he performed.
A recipient of the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, Bennett won 19 GRAMMYS among 41 nominations throughout his staggering career. His first two GRAMMYS came from his signature tune, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," which won Best Solo Vocal Performance, Male and Record of the Year at the 1963 GRAMMYs (it was later inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1994). He most recently won a GRAMMY in 2022 for Traditional Best Pop Vocal Album for his Cole Porter tribute with Lady Gaga, Love For Sale.
"Tony Bennett was an iconic, once-in-a-generation voice in American music," said Harvey Mason jr, CEO of The Recording Academy. "A 19-time GRAMMY winner between 1962-2021, Tony's work has stood the test of time while being embraced universally by audiences and musicians across generations. We're honored to have celebrated Tony's GRAMMY moments, 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award, and 1994 GRAMMY Hall of Fame induction alongside him throughout his illustrious career. The world has lost an astounding talent, and he will be deeply missed."
In the wake of his passing, Bennett's monumental impact on music has left the medium's biggest names musing about his vast influence. "Without doubt the classiest singer, man, and performer you will ever see," said Elton John in an Instagram post. "He's irreplaceable. I loved and adored him." Billy Joel called Bennett "one of the most important interpreters of American popular song" in his own post, while fellow crooner Harry Connick Jr. wrote "You changed the world with your voice."
"From an early age, I've been blessed by now that I wanted to be involved in artistic endeavors," Bennett wrote in his 2012 memoir Life is a Gift. "Even though we were very poor, my parents placed a high value on the arts. I always wanted to sing and paint; I never had to ask, 'What am I going to do with my life?' I always knew."
Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Queens, New York, Bennett took early influence from his father, who was known to sing Italian folk songs; the crooner later credited his father (who died when he was 10) with inspiring his eventual career. Bennett's later service in World War II led to him to study at the American Theater Wing once stateside thanks to the G.I. Bill.
After a successful career as a club musician (where comedian Bob Hope bequeathed Bennett his shorter, angelized moniker), Columbia Records president Mitch Miller welcomed Bennett to his roster and in 1951, he released his first album Because of You. Of its eponymous single, Johnny Mathis later told GRAMMY.com it's the song he most personally associates with Tony. "His interpretation is so honest and it was very representative of the time," recalled Mathis of the track. "Because of You" was his first No. 1 hit — and in fitting form, it was also the last song he sang before his death.
Throughout his subsequent career, Bennett fiercely cherished the songs he sang, making hits of early recordings, from the bombastic "Rags to Riches" to the bittersweet "The Good Life." Though Bennett's catalog did include one dabble into modern pop hits with 1970's Tony Bennett Sings the Great Hits of Today!, his undying loyalty to his art manifested in his own response to the schlocky album: he later recalled throwing up the first time he heard it played back.
The consummate jazz virtuoso also embodied a steadfast determination to preserve and honor the Great American Songbook in his tribute albums. He recorded the music of everyone from friend and contemporary Ella Fitzegerald (1995's Here's to the Ladies), to several jazz greats on 2014's Cheek to Cheek, his first collaborative project with Lady Gaga.
Cheek to Cheek and the aforementioned Love for Sale — Bennett and Gaga's second LP together — both helped introduce Bennett to a new generation of listeners. In fact, Bennett reintroduced himself to fresh audiences multiple times during his career, whether his most recent bow with Gaga or in 1995 when his MTV Unplugged album won GRAMMYs for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance and the coveted Album of the Year.
The smooth romance of Bennett's voice also served as a motif for his catalog, a talent that The Voice himself, Frank Sinatra, first noticed. Lifelong friends until his death, Sinatra was famously quoted in a 1965 interview for Life Magazine saying, "For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business," a sentiment that cemented Bennett as an artist for all-time. (In the wake of his death, Sinatra's daughter Nancy called him "one of the most splendid people who ever lived.")
When it comes to vocal prowess alone, take for example "The Way You Look Tonight," the ultimate love song originally written in 1936 that Bennett first recorded in 1956, delivering multiple interpretations throughout his career. Elsewhere, it was during his '70s-era work with the pianist Bill Evans that showcased the singer's tender voice alongside Evans' tinkling piano, especially in the mournful "Young and Foolish," on which he sings of a sunsetting of youth.
"Overall, his absolute unrelenting commitment to excellence is at the forefront," musician and Bennett collaborator Gregg Field told GRAMMY.com last year. "In spite of decades of passing musical trends, Tony recognized greatness, and it is always that the next generation of artists that are attracted to his music."
But whether the songs he recorded were joyful or melancholy, Bennett's passion always shone through — and is ultimately what will make his legacy live on. "I encourage everyone to find their passion," he later wrote in Life is a Gift. "Work as hard as you can to follow your dreams; they will ultimately lead you to contentment in every aspect of your life. It's my goal at the end of the day to be able to lay my head on my pillow, knowing I've tried my best."