NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Tony Bennett's highly anticipated new release, DUETS II (RPM Records/Columbia Records) debuts at the #1 position on Billboard's top albums chart, with 179,000 units sold in the first week. The album has remained in the top 5 on iTunes' album chart in the US and other countries since its release. Digital albums represented 20% of overall sales, the highest for any Bennett album to-date.
Danny Bennett, Tony's son and manager stated, "It's an unprecedented and historical event that an artist at the age of 85 has topped the charts. He's remained at the top of his game without having ever compromised his integrity and standard of excellence."
"The number one success of Duets II pays tribute to the enduring genius of Tony Bennett," said Steve Barnett, Chairman, Columbia Records. "It is a true testament to Tony's artistry that he continues to top the charts while at the same time reaching a broader fan base and breaking new ground."
A long-term PR campaign, beginning with the start of the recording sessions in February, fueled robust pre-sale orders that launched on the singer's 85th Birthday on August 3rd. Extensive TV appearances on 20/20, the MTV Video Music Awards, the America's Got Talent finale, The Today Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and HSN, leading up to the release, enhanced pre-sales. Print features in the New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, among others, all appeared in advance of the in-store date. TV appearances after launch included The Today Show, The View, Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Piers Morgan Tonight, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as well as a duet performance prominently featured in the season premiere of CBS TV show "Blue Bloods." CBS Sunday Morning also highlighted the new release in their fall music preview.
Partnerships with Target, AARP, Starbucks, Tiffany & Co, Godiva, Koss Corporation, among others created extensive exposure in the marketplace. Non-traditional retail outlets included HSN, Walgreens, Nordstrom and Wegmans.
Nearly twenty years after making ground-breaking headlines with his "Steppin' Out" video being added to MTV in 1993, Bennett has once again been added across all MTV Networks worldwide with the premiere of the Amy Winehouse duet of "Body and Soul." Widespread listener response to the DUETS II's Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse tracks across all radio formats has garnered major airplay on Top 40, Hot AC and AAA stations. "Body and Soul" has broken into Billboard's Hot 100 Singles charts.
The entire six month recording process for DUETS II, during which Bennett recorded live with each duet partner in the studio, was documented on film by Academy Award winning cinematographer Dion Beebe. Footage from sessions held in New York, Los Angeles, London, Nashville and Italy was distributed to a variety of online outlets. Clips were tailored, often as exclusives, to iTunes, Vevo, MTV and Barnes and Noble among others, resulting in over 100 million impressions online and will become the basis of a documentary "The Zen of Tony Bennett," an intimate look into the artist's creative process as he reflects over his 60 year career within the context of his latest recording project.
DUETS II has received unprecedented response in sales and profile internationally, including the UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Australia. An extended campaign was implemented early on in the project to develop and expand awareness and exposure for Tony Bennett and DUETS II through promotional trips, publicity outreach, and concert appearances.
DUETS II was produced by Phil Ramone and Bennett's son, Dae Bennett. It features a celebrated roster of many of today's greatest artists--including Lady Gaga, Michael Buble, John Mayer, Carrie Underwood and Amy Winehouse--performing with Tony, showcasing his catalog of greatest hits. DUETS II is a follow-up to Bennett's highly successful DUETS CD, which was released for the singer's 80th birthday, received three Grammy Awards and became his best-selling record to-date. A concentrated catalog campaign was also initiated resulting in DUETS return to the charts, with top five placement at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
RPM/Columbia/Legacy announced plans to release the labels' most extensive boxed set collection in their history. TONY BENNETT: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION features 73 CDs and 3 DVDS and will be available on November 8 exclusively through Barnes and Noble retail stores, bn.com and tonybennet.com.
Tony Bennett has garnered high praise with DUETS II. Some of the highlights are below:
"Each of the megastar pairings with Tony Bennett on his second disc of duets is momentous" US WEEKLY 3 1/2 stars
"Tony Bennett is the oldest artist to ever grace the Hot 100 charts. He and Amy Winehouse bow at #87 with Body and Soul. He's also taking the crown for longest span. He holds an impressive 53 year, 2 month existence on the charts! Nice! Tony, you're just makin' all sorts of headlines this year, aren't ya?!!" PEREZ HILTON
"As savvy as ever at 85, Tony Bennett leaves no box unchecked..." PEOPLE
"...constantly reaffirming his position as pop music's greatest living patriarch" WALL STREET JOURNAL
"…he's also timeless, popular to at least three generations and in many ways even emblematic of this one." LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Tony Bennett is as timeless as the songs he sings on DUETS II, which should put him back on the charts for a remarkable seventh straight decade." ASSOCIATED PRESS
SOURCE RPM Records/Columbia Records