Tony Bennett once shared the words he told Amy Winehouse that ‘changed her life’

Tony Bennett once shared the words he said to Amy Winehouse that, he claimed, “changed” her “whole life”.

The great American crooner died on Friday (21 July) aged 96 in his hometown of New York. A cause of death was not given, but he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease back in 2016.

Throughout his lengthy career, Bennett released more than 70 albums and collaborated with the biggest singers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney and Celine Dion.

His friendship and work with Lady Gaga, in particular, introduced him to a new generation of fans. The duo released two studio albums together: 2014’s Cheek to Cheek and 2021’s Love For Sale.

Back in 2011, the “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” singer duetted with the late Amy Winehouse on “Body and Soul”, which featured on his album Duets II: The Great Performances.

The track ended up being Winehouse’s final recording before her death of alcohol poisoning in July of that year.

Speaking toEntertainment Weekly ahead of the album’s release, Bennett remembered how he calmed down a nervous Winehouse before they made the song together.

“She was very nervous to perform, but I said, ‘You know, it sounds like you’re influenced by Dinah Washington.’ And all of the sudden, her whole life changed,” he recalled.

“She said, ‘How did you know that Dinah Washington is my goddess?’ She did some Dinah Washington licks, and from that moment on, she just relaxed. And it came out wonderful. She was like, ‘Tony understands me, you know?’”

Winehouse and Bennett (Warner/YouTube)
Winehouse and Bennett (Warner/YouTube)

Discussing the British singer’s talent, Bennett said: “What I love about Amy Winehouse is that, of all the singers since the Beatles, you automatically check everyone out who’s a lot younger, but there’s been such a big walk away from jazz.

“Some people think that anyone could sing jazz, but they can’t. It’s a gift of learning how to syncopate but it’s also a spirit that you’re either born with or you’re not. And Amy was born with that spirit.”

He continued: “Jazz is a wonderful art. Listening to it, I compare it to watching the greatest tennis player who’s so intelligent about where he places the ball, it becomes effortless. The great ones that are very talented know just how to turn jazz singing into a performance that’s unforgettable.

“And Amy had that gift. The fact that she died at 27 years old is just horrible to me. If she had lived, she would’ve been right up there with Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington. It’s just a tragedy.”