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For six decades, Tony Bennett has left his heart on the Grammy stage.

Whether he was performing, presenting or picking up that precious hardware, the legendary crooner has become a part of the very fabric of music’s biggest night since delivering his first Grammy performance in 1963.

Bennett won the first two of his 18 competitive Grammys that year, with his last victory coming in 2018. On top of that, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. And he’s also up for five more gramophones when the 64th annual awards take place on Sunday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (airing at 8 p.m. ET on CBS with host Trevor Noah). Bennett’s second collaborative LP with Lady Gaga, “Love for Sale,” is up for Album of the Year, while their duet “I Get a Kick Out of You” is nominated for Record of the Year.

With Bennett suffering from Alzheimer’s disease at 95, he’ll no doubt be the sentimental favorite for his final album. And while he’ll be cheering Gaga on from his home in New York City when she performs solo on Sunday, he’ll surely be missed at the Grammys.

“I had him on every several years,” longtime Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich told The Post. “You know, I think more than anything, he was always sweet. He’s just a lovely guy. He was great to work with.”

Indeed, Bennett was pure Grammy gold to Ehrlich: “His spirit is kind of part of what the Grammys are all about … from his musicality to the way that he is embraced by and embraces people and other artists from across generations. He’s really done that. I mean, so many people want to meet and perform with Tony Bennett.”

Follow the 2022 Grammys with our up-to-the-minute coverage:

Here, we look back on some of Bennett’s most memorable Grammy moments that have made us get a kick out of him for 60 years.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett performs at the 1966 Grammys.
NBCUniversal via Getty Images

A Grammy debut to remember

Bennett began his long love affair with the Grammys at the fifth awards ceremony in 1963. Making his first of many performances to come, he fittingly sang his signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which won him the Record of the Year Grammy.

“When he wasn’t performing [but] he was presenting,” said Ehrlich, “if I said to him, ‘Look, can we do eight bars of ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco,’ he would do it, and they loved it. And he loved it.” 

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett won the Album of the Grammy for “MTV Unplugged” in 1995.
AFP via Getty Images

Bennett’s triumphant comeback

Capping a major career comeback, Bennett won the prestigious Album of the Year Grammy for his “MTV Unplugged” LP in 1995. Upon accepting his gramophone, he called it “the greatest moment in my whole musical career, and the greatest moment in my life.”

But Ehrlich had to fight to get Bennett to perform that night with members of the TV committee who thought he was no longer relevant. “There were some people that thought, ‘Why are we going to put this old guy on the Grammys?’” he said. “And Tony Bennett got a standing ovation … And the fact that Tony’s career went on from there to another 20 years testifies to his work.”

Tony Bennett and Billy Joel
Tony Bennett performs “New York State of Mind” with Billy Joel at the 2002 Grammys.
Getty Images

Repping New York with Billy Joel

They may have been at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but Big Apple natives Bennett and Joel made a powerhouse pair when they sang “New York State of Mind” at the 2002 Grammys. Their duet of the Joel classic was featured on 2001’s “Playin’ with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues,” which would go on to win for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album in 2003.

“I mean, you could see the respect,” said Ehrlich. “Whenever I put him with anybody … it was like the respect that they had for him was unique.” 

k.d. lang and Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett and his crooning collaborator k.d. lang at the 2014 Grammys.

Crooning with the ladies

Bennett was the dream duet partner for many a diva over his Grammy career, from Natalie Cole in 1993 to k.d. lang in 2004, when the pair won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for their collaborative LP “A Wonderful World.” He even sang “It Had to Be You” with country superstar Carrie Underwood in 2012. “I paired him with Carrie, and they were great,” said Ehrlich. “He loved it. He loved being around young people.”

Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood
Tony Bennett performing “It Had to Be You” with Carrie Underwood at the 2012 Grammys.
Getty Images

Getting ‘Cheek to Cheek’ with Gaga

After walking the red carpet together at the 2015 Grammys, Bennett and Lady Gaga performed the title tune of their first joint album, 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek.” The LP scored the singer yet another gramophone for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. “And of course we know what kind of a love affair he went on to have with Gaga,” said Ehrlich.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga took home gramophones for their first collaborative album, “Cheek to Cheek,” at the 2015 Grammys.

Source: NYPOST

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