It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tony Middleton on February 7th, 2024 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Tony was unable to make it to his 90th birthday milestone. His mother graced this world for an astonishing 106 years. Tony is survived by his wife of 70 years, Betty, and their adult children.

Tony’s career was an intriguing and varied one, spanning many years of incredible achievements. As a young man, Tony had aspirations of becoming a “golden gloves” boxer, but ultimately chose a different path and became the lead singer and songwriter of the well-known group “The Willows”. The group gained fame with their hit crossover song, “Church Bells May Ring”, as well as with other hits like “My Dear Dearest Darling”, “Dolores”, and “White Cliffs of Dover”. Tony and the Willows were mainstays at the Westbury Music Fair, American Music Theatre, PA., the Tarrytown Music Hall, and countless other theaters around the world. The group also made several appearances on PBS specials on Doo Wop, and their song “Church Bells May Ring” is considered one of the top 100 songs of the genre.

Tony also appeared in numerous Broadway musicals, including as the lead in “Cabin in the Sky” and in principal roles in “Purlie” and “Porgy and Bess”. Later in life, he lived and performed in Paris and throughout Europe, playing in the jazz circuit for several years. During his time in Europe, Tony was the understudy for Sammy Davis in “Free and Easy”, a show written by Harold Arlin and Johnny Mercer. He also performed at the City Center and Wolftrap with the Alvin Ailey Dancers, singing the “Mary Lou Williams’s Mass”. Additionally, he was one of the headliners at Lincoln Center for the 55th Birthday Tribute to the late Charlie Parker.

As a solo artist, Tony was highly respected and well-known amongst world-class performers. He performed with music legends such as Burt Bacharach, Quincy Jones, and Cy Coleman. His performances headlined at the Apollo, along with other famous artists such as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Big Mabel, and Slappy White. He sang with the likes of Sissy Houston, Nell Carter, and Della Reese, and his recording of “Don’t Ever Leave Me” written and produced by Klaus Ogermann, received a Grammy Nomination.

In addition to his impressive career on Broadway and in music, Tony also appeared in numerous commercials, television shows, films, and the cabaret circuit both here in the United States and abroad. Tony was a member of SAG, AFTRA, and EQUITY, and he loved to sing and interpret music in his own unique jazz style. His big voice has been compared to legends such as Joe Williams, Arthur Prysock, Lou Rauls, and Ray Charles, and yet his range is even more complex, with deep and sultry tones that captured the hearts of his listeners.

Tony Middleton was a true talent, and his incredible career will never be forgotten.