After the legendary musician passed away at the age of 96 on Friday, Billy Joel, who is now 74 years old, took a moment to reflect on Bennett’s impact on both his music and career. He expressed his lasting appreciation for the influence that Bennett had on him.
“[He] was a unique voice that made the transition from the era of Jazz into the age of Pop,” he wrote alongside Instagram photos of the two performing together on stage. “I will always be grateful for his outstanding contribution to the art of contemporary music.”
In 2001, Bennett collaborated with several artists, including Joel, for his album Playin’ with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues. Among these collaborations was a duet between Bennett and Joel on the song New York State of Mind, which was originally featured on Joel’s 1976 album Turnstiles.
The duet was so well-received that it earned the pair a nomination in the best pop collaboration with vocals category at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
Recalling his experience of working with Bennett, he said that the jazz icon “was a joy to work with.”
“His energy and enthusiasm for the material he was performing was infectious,” he added. “He was also one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known.”
Praising his impact on music, Joel called him “one of the most important interpreters of American popular song during the mid to late 20th century” who “championed songwriters who might otherwise have remained unknown to many millions of music fans.”