THE FAIRMONT SAN FRANCISCO CELEBRATES THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF TONY BENNETT’S FIRST PERFORMANCE OF “I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO”
December 22, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO, December 2011 – 50 years ago, iconic singer Tony Bennett took the stage of The Fairmont San Francisco’s famed Venetian Room and performed “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” for the first time during his “Happy New Year’” engagement, which extended through January 17, 1962. He then recorded the song, which was released in February of 1962, becoming a major hit on the pop singles chart and winning the top prize of Grammy Award for “Record of the Year,” as well as “Best Male Solo Vocal Performance.” Bennett went on to become a fifteen-time Grammy Award- winner and a musical legend, who continues to make headlines for his music, art and collaborations with a variety of renowned performers.
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was written in 1954 by George Cory and Douglass Cross. When Bennett first treated the audience to his rendition of the beloved classic in December 1961, San Francisco mayor George Christopher and future mayor Joseph L. Alioto were among those watching. For many, Bennett’s version of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” has generated more love and nostalgia for the Bay Area than all songs, movies and television shows associated with the area combined. In 1969, the song was adopted by the City and County of San Francisco as one of its two official anthems (the other being the title song from the 1936 film San Francisco.)
In 1999, to commemorate the restoration of The Fairmont San Francisco, Bennett placed a time capsule in the stage of the hotel's famed Venetian Room. The capsule contains personal items, including a red Baccarat crystal heart gifted to Bennett by Liza Minnelli. Bennett explained that Minnelli gave him the heart to replace the one he left in San Francisco.
Tony Bennett has sold 50 million records worldwide, and 50 years later, he still enjoys performing his signature song. Discussing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in his 1998 autobiography, The Good Life, Bennett said, "The song helped make me a world citizen: it allowed me to live, work and sing in any city on the globe. It changed my whole life. I was especially touched by an article I read one Sunday in The New York Times near the end of the Vietnam War. It described lonely, homesick soldiers sitting around a campfire singing 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco.'
To mark the 50th Anniversary of Bennett’s performance and the year during which his recording of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was released, The Fairmont San Francisco will celebrate throughout 2012 with special related cocktail and room package options. Tony Bennett fans and visitors to the city by the bay can visit www.fairmont.com/sanfrancisco for more details in the New Year.
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