Fifty-seven years ago, on June 9, 1962, one of the greatest achievements in Tony Bennett’s career took place: his appearance at Carnegie Hall. Tony Bennett relates in his 1998 autobiography The Good Life:
When “San Francisco” was peaking in early 1962, I was invited to appear at Carnegie Hall for the first time. Carnegie Hall had never featured a “pop” singer like myself as solo performer. To my surprise, Columbia backed me completely. Goddard said. “You’ve got to play Carnegie Hall, and we’d love to make a record out of the concert.”
I wanted everything to be right. I called my old army buddy Arthur Penn and asked him to help me stage the show. He very graciously agreed, even though he’d just directed his Oscar-winning file The Miracle Worker and wasn’t exactly staging shows anymore. He brought in Gene Saks, the famous Broadway director, and together the three of use worked out exactly what would be done at Carnegie Hall. Gene Saks gave the whole theater a truly spiritual look with his elegant, understated lighting. Carnegie Hall never looked better.
I put everything I’d been studying for the last twenty years into practice for that show.
The concert was held on June 9, 1962. Backstage I had a healthy case of the butterflies and reflected on Sinatra’s advice about the jitters. From the minute I hit the stage all the nervousness disappeared, and I knew I was going to nail it. I’m proud to say that the concert was an absolute triumph.
Columbia was able to get Tony Bennett at Carnegie Hall released by the end of August. We got the greatest sound on our album, better than any other album I’d recorded. Frank Laico did a terrific job, not only recording the music, but beautifully capturing the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Tony Bennett At Carnegie Hall – The Complete Concert, an album by Tony Bennett on Spotify