WHEN I was in Las Vegas I just missed out on the opportunity to meet and perform with one of my musical heroes Tony Bennett.

This honour fell to another rat pack singer who took over my slot as I moved on to another casino.

I was devastated to learn Mr Bennett had entered the casino and then got up on stage and sang with the house entertainment.

Many years later I saw Tony Bennett live here in Manchester at the Bridgewater Hall.

Unbeknown to me, my wife Val had arranged for me to meet him after the show, which for me was an amazing experience.

Having not only the opportunity to listen to him sing live but then to meet the hero of my favourite genre of music.

He was very much the genuine gentleman I believed him to be.

Later that month I received a parcel from Tony Bennett in the post with a signed photograph in it for me, which I really cherish (see picture).

The reason I am such a huge Tony Bennett fan is because he is a true artist, in every sense of the word.

His music is ageless and his interpretation of the classic songs from the great American songbook really is second to none.

He is 92-years-old and still performing to packed out crowds.

He has released over 70 albums in his amazing career and this month he released his latest album, a duet album with Diana Krall.

Titled ‘Love Is Here to Stay’, it is a celebration of the songs of George and Ira Gershwin.

Bennett, who was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in 1926, isn’t just a tremendous vocalist, but also a very accomplished painter who has his works of art on public display in several renowned art institutions.

Tony also founded the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts based in Queens, New York, where he was born.

He did this to honour his close friend and another musical hero of mine Frank Sinatra.

He wanted to give something back to the community and encourage young people to get involved in the arts.

Tony Bennett has done what many artists have failed to do and that is bridge the gap of generations.

He has sold over 50 million records worldwide and won 19 Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented in 2001).

He has also won two Emmy Awards,and was named an NEA Jazz Master. He has a new generation of fans today and in my opinion he is the last greatest crooner we have alive today.

He may have left his heart in San Francisco but his music has gained the hearts of fans, including mine, all over the world.