Stars Mourn Music Icon Tony Bennett’s Death: ‘An Amazing Human Being’

Tony Bennett, Carrie Underwood

Heavy/Getty Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood

Some of America’s biggest music stars, including many “American Idol” cast members and alumni, are mourning the death of entertainment icon Tony Bennett, who died on July 21, 2023, at his Manhattan home, according to the New York Times. On social media, stars from Carrie Underwood to Lionel Richie have paid tribute to the legendary crooner, who was 96 at the time of his death.

In February 2021, Bennett’s family revealed to AARP The Magazine that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, but continued to perform and record music. His final public performance was in August 2021 with his close friend, Lady Gaga, at Radio City Music Hall for a show called “One Last Time.”

‘American Idol’ Stars Pay Tribute to Tony Bennett

Upon learning of Bennett’s death, many “American Idol” stars who’ve been touched by his music and friendship began posting tributes to him, with multiple celebs calling him a “class act.”

For instance, current “Idol” judge Lionel Richie posted a throwback photo of him with Bennett on Instagram and wrote, “One class act and an amazing human being! Thanks for the memories.”

Former judge and recent “Idol” mentor Keith Urban posted a black and white photo of Bennett in his Instagram Stories and wrote, “What a legacy of not only superb timeless music, but a class act study in cool, grace, and elegance.”

One of the original “Idol” judges, Randy Jackson, shared a photo and quote from Bennett in his Instagram Stories that read, “I think if you have a passion for what you do then there are no limitations on how much you can accomplish.”

Jackson added a prayer hands emoji and wrote, “Rest in power.”

Country superstar and “American Idol” season 4 winner Carrie Underwood posted a series of photos of herself with Bennett over the years.

“Rest in peace, Tony,” she wrote. “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…”

Season 3 winner Ruben Studdard also posted a photo of Bennett on Instagram and wrote, “Thank you for all the wonderful music. Listening to you taught me more about phrasing than any class could. Rest in Peace @itstonybennett”

Mariah Carey, who served as a judge during season 12 of “American Idol” and was featured on Bennett’s “Duets II” album in 2011, posted two photos of them together on Instagram.

“Rest in peace Tony Bennett,” she wrote. “It was such an honor to work with one of the world’s most beloved, respected and legendary singers of the past century. We will miss you ❤️”

Another former “Idol” judge, Harry Connick Jr., appeared on CNN hours after Bennett’s death to pay homage to the singer, who inspired his own career.

“I’ve known Tony for years, probably since I was a teenager I think, when he came through New Orleans was the first time I met him,” he recalled. “We could talk for hours about what an unbelievable musical talent he was, but he was so nice to me, always so kind. His arms were always open. So encouraging.”

Connick Jr. then laughed and said, “I laugh when I think about it, because he was the kinda guy I would love to have him come on stage and sing with me, but you also had to be careful because you knew who was gonna get the most applause and it wasn’t gonna be me!”

Tony Bennett’s Family Launches Legacy Fund to Further Music Education

Hours after the announcement of Bennett’s death, his family — including his wife Susan — announced the creation of the Tony Bennett Legacy Fund, designed to carry on the singer’s commitment to “bring the transformative power of art to public school children.”

Launched through the nonprofit organization Exploring the Arts, a site dedicated to the fund reads, “ETA is incredibly proud to honor Tony’s life by bringing the transformative power of art to public school youth. Tony’s and his wife’s vision–and our mission–has never been more vital. Young people need arts education. The arts, as Tony said, ‘makes people better human beings’ and provides them with the foundation to be the individuals they dream of becoming.”

According to Time magazine, Bennett “started singing jazz standards as a teenage waiter and never stopped.” Even as producers and record executives tried to get him to follow music trends throughout the years, he was happy to work with artists from other genres but never moved away from his signature sound.

In his 2021 memoir, “Life is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett,” the icon wrote, “Back in the ‘60s, I was told I had to change my music for the kids to accept me. Yet through the years, every age responds to my singing, even though I haven’t changed a thing.”