Tony Bennett was a singer who found popular success very early on, yet once he established himself as a pop star, devoted himself completely to proving that he was an artist as well. Among other things, he was a jazz artist from the beginning, and as he got better and better at it, was increasingly accepted by the jazz world. As Mitch Miller, Bennett’s longtime producer and sparring partner, observed, "Whenever Tony has a hit record, he wants to make a jazz album.” This was true in the sense that all of Bennett’s early original albums were jazz oriented in some way. In 1958, Bennett was the first mainstream star vocalist to do an album with Count Basie, who became a lifelong friend. Bennett also recorded with jazz luminaries like Art Blakey, Bill Evans and Zoot Sims, and toured extensively with Duke Ellington and Woody Herman.