Tony Bennett: I owe career to taxi driver

Tony Bennett was once called a "loser" and a "fake" by a taxi driver.

Tony Bennett was inspired to sing a cappella by a cab driver.

The 88-year-old musical legend has brought his work to a younger audience thanks to a collaborative jazz album with Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek.

He understands that the audience needs to connect with the performer and found inspiration in an unusual place.

“[Years ago, a cab driver] said, ‘You singers, you’re all losers compared to the singers I grew up with.’ I said, ‘How come?’ He said, ‘Years ago, Al Jolson and Ethel Merman and people like them came onstage and they hit the back of the house! They didn’t have a microphone,’” he recalled to the US edition of Esquire.

“He said, ‘You guys are faking it.’ So I said to myself, ‘Let me try it. When I’m in an acoustic hall, let me sing a song at the end a cappella.’ At first, I didn’t know what was gonna happen, but then I saw the reaction. This is good! So I left it in.”

Gaga often talks about how much she’s learnt from Tony, with the 28-year-old crediting him with helping her through troubled times.

But Tony also needed his fair share of advice when he was up and coming.

“When I was starting out, I used to stay onstage too long,” he admitted.

“Instead of criticising me, Fred Astaire told me, ‘What I’ve learned is when you get a set together that’s absolutely perfect, go in and pull out 15 minutes of it.’ That was his way of telling me that less is more.”
Copyright: Cover Media 2014

Sunday, 26. October 2014