Tony Bennett helped bandmate Paul Langosch when his wife was sick

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Musician Paul Langosch was on tour with Tony Bennett in 1999 as a bassist in his band when Langosch’s spouse, Michelle Dunn-Langosch, was abruptly identified with lung most cancers. It had unfold to her mind and backbone.

“We had been blindsided,” mentioned Langosch, who was then 41.

He instructed Bennett he wanted to depart the tour, figuring his place within the band would immediately be crammed by one other musician and he’d lose his spot for good.

“Normally, in a state of affairs like that, someone goes to take your job,” mentioned Langosch. “It’s simply the way in which of the enterprise.”

Langosch was surprised when Bennett instructed him that the spot within the band would stay his when he was prepared for it. Bennett continued paying Langosch for the 5 months he took off to look after his spouse, who additionally had a number of sclerosis.

“It was extraordinary,” Langosch instructed The Washington Submit in a telephone interview on the day of Bennett’s demise on the age of 96.

“I simply can’t overlook one thing like that,” mentioned Langosch, his voice trembling from his residence in Chevy Chase, Md.

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Langosch’s path to taking part in with Bennett occurred partially by probability, however like many fortunate breaks, he had already put in years of preparation.

Langosch started taking part in the bass as a baby when he joined the orchestra at his public faculty in Bethesda, Md. From there, he by no means stopped taking part in the instrument.

He went to Montgomery Faculty for 3 semesters, the place he met jazz musician Invoice Potts, who grew to become a mentor and helped him meet folks within the business.

After a number of years of honing his abilities, Langosch obtained a shock name from Tony Bennett’s highway supervisor, who mentioned he was urgently looking for a bassist to play a three-night run with Bennett in Sacramento. Langosch instantly booked a flight.

“I had a buddy who knew Tony’s drummer, and he really useful me,” Langosch recalled, including that he had additionally raised his profile by working with outstanding musicians that had been passing by means of D.C., together with Mel Tormé and Phil Woods. “I used to be in the fitting place on the proper time.”

Though Langosch was assured in his musical skills, he was nervous to play with Bennett, who at that time had lengthy maintained famous person standing.

“It was excessive stress. You didn’t need to mess up,” Langosch mentioned.

After the primary efficiency in Sacramento, Langosch was employed because the band’s bassist.

“It was such an honor to get to do a gig like that,” Langosch mentioned. “I at all times liked his singing.”

Langosch went on to play with Bennett for a cumulative 20 years — from 1985 to 1993, after which once more from 1996 to 2008.

“Once I first began working with him, it was earlier than he had his resurgence,” Langosch mentioned, pointing to the artist’s revival within the late Nineteen Eighties, after Bennett was quickly seen as a “has-been.”

“It was an unbelievable factor to see Tony make it again,” Langosch mentioned. “Crucial factor for him was the standard of the music. As a musician, you’re actually fortunate to get to work with an artist like that.”

Along with admiring Bennett’s musical expertise, Langosch shortly got here to understand him in different methods.

“He was a really real particular person,” he mentioned.

Many instances over the course of his profession, Langosch watched in awe as Bennett confirmed kindness to each bandmates and strangers.

“If there was someone that was in bother, Tony was one of many first folks there,” he mentioned. “He helped out as a lot as he may.”

Tony Bennett noticed racism and horror in World Conflict II. It modified him.

Bennett famously served in World Conflict II, writing in his 1998 autobiography, “The Good Life,” concerning the atrocities he noticed. These reminiscences led him to turn out to be a civil rights activist. In 1965, his buddy and singer Harry Belafonte requested him to stroll in a civil rights march deliberate by Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala. Bennett accepted with out hesitation.

Though Langosch had witnessed Bennett’s generosity earlier than, he by no means anticipated to be a beneficiary of it.

“I actually don’t know what I’d have accomplished in any other case,” Langosch mentioned about his household disaster.

He mentioned Bennett known as him a number of instances to test in whereas his spouse was sick, and provided to attach him with famend medical doctors. When the couple visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Langosch mentioned, “he picked up our resort room.”

“She was up to now gone that they wouldn’t deal with her,” mentioned Langosch. “We spent the previous few months simply being quiet and managing her ache.”

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After Langosch’s spouse died, “I felt like I actually wanted to get again to work,” he mentioned. “It was a really, very tough transition.”

Being in Bennett’s band, although, “was like being in a household.”

Langosch carried on as Bennett’s bassist till 2008, when he determined to retire from touring.

“When it’s time, it’s time,” mentioned Langosch, who continued making music. He carried out at native venues — such because the Bertha’s Mussels in Baltimore — and taught jazz at Virginia Tech in 2013.

“I nonetheless play as a lot as I can,” he mentioned.

Langosch stayed in contact with Bennett over time and sometimes considered what the artist did to lighten his load throughout a turbulent time.

“Individuals ought to know what sort of particular person he was,” Langosch mentioned. “He was an actual human being.”

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