Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Tony Bennett performs during his 85th Birthday Gala Benefit for Exploring the Arts at The Metropolitan Opera House on September 18, 2011 in New York City.
Tony Bennett performed Saturday night at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The concert was sponsored by AARP and benefited Drive to End Hunger, an effort to end hunger among older Americans. The venue was far from full, with the third level trapped off and large sections of open seats in the 100 level, as well as some open sections in the 200 level. The charity event likely made a good deal of money though, particularly thanks to tables in front of the stage with tickets coming in at over $1,500.
The event featured a special guest appearance by Stevie Wonder. Bennett introduced Wonder by saying, "He's a genius, and I don't use that word loosely." Wonder said he first heard Bennett sing when he was 14, and heard a song he fell in love with - "For Once In My Life." Bennett and Wonder dueted on that song, which Bennett had sung and Wonder later took and made into a hit himself. They'd also recorded a duet of the song for Bennett's first "Duets" album.
What began as a tribute night to Stevie Wonder at an Echo Park club took a turn for the unbelievable when Motown icon Stevie Wonder himself showed up to hang out, sing a few bars and talk politics. (Yes, politics.)
At the Echoplex, DJ Spinna was hosting his yearly "Wonder-full" club night, where Wonder fans gather to dance to the musician's arsenal of hits and B-sides, and buy T-shirts with screen prints of the legend's face on them.
It may have been his signature sunglasses or long braids decorated with small seashells, but Wonder's arrival was electric, unparalleled even by the Echoplex’s history of big-name talents like Beck and Nine Inch Nails.
The 22-time Grammy winner sat at a small table with friends and family, watching the party from a roped-off corner near the stage. This VIP area was modest, much like Wonder’s entourage and demeanor.