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NEW YORK CITY— Pop music icon Tony Bennett is dead at age 96. He’d been battling Alzheimer’s for some time, diagnosed in 2016. The singer died Friday morning in New York City.

He began his career as a singing waiter in his native Queens. He was discovered in 1949 by Pearl Bailey who asked him to open for her, then went on to tour with Bob Hope. In 1950, he was signed to Columbia Records and the following year, released his first hit, “Because of You.” That was followed by such classics as “Rags to Riches” and “Stranger in Paradise” from the broadway show “Kismet” and what many consider to be his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

His popularity dwindled somewhat with the advent of rock n’ roll, but in 1979 with help from his son, he staged one of the most successful comebacks in entertainment history. His music spanned several decades as well as a variety of genres including big band, jazz and show tunes in addition to traditional and classic pop standards. He won 20 Grammys, inclulding a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as two Emmys.

Bennett was a veteran, and later a pacifist, having served in the infantry during World War II and was an accomplished painter.