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100-Year-Old Pianist Celebrates His Birthday at Nino's Tuscany

By Shaye Weaver | August 7, 2015 6:06pm | Updated on August 10, 2015 8:52am
 Nino's Tuscany on Eats 58th Street surprised Irving Fields with a special visit from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney on Friday.
Irving Fields Turns 100
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CENTRAL PARK SOUTH — If you ask 100-year-old Irving Fields what the secret to long life is, he'll tell you it's doing what you love.

That's precisely what the pianist, singer and songwriter said is the reason he can celebrate his centennial this week.

The Central Park South resident has been playing jazz standards, classical pieces, Latin tunes and his own hits at hotels and restaurants since the 1940s.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and a slew of media outlets, surprised him on Friday at his favorite Italian restaurant, Nino's Tuscany on East 58th Street where he also works, to wish him a "happy birthday."

"Am I in heaven?" he asked, sitting at the Yamaha piano he plays six nights a week. "I want another 100 years. This is one of the happiest engagements of all the wonderful engagements I've done from the Taj Mahal in Bombay, the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and the Plaza Hotel, to every place I've played. Thank you."

Irving Fields Plays Piano
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DNAinfo/Shaye Weaver

Fields was born on August 4, 1915, the oldest of six children, he said, and grew up on the Lower East Side. He started his music career when he was 17-years-old on a cruise ship to Cuba and Puerto Rico. It was in Cuba that he fell in love with Latin rhythms. He took that sound with him back to New York.

During the 1940s, he formed a band that performed at the Savoy Lounge in the Plaza Hotel as well as Miami's Versailles Hotel, propelling him into a music career at hotels around the world. That's also when he wrote one of his most popular songs "Miami Beach Rumba."

His songs were covered by big names including Xavier Cugat, Dinah Shore, Sarah Vaughn and the Barry Sisters. Fields even wrote campaign songs for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., and is working on a campaign song for Donald Trump called "It's Donald," he said.

Over the years, Fields has appeared on many TV shows and headlined clubs and performance halls, including eight times at Carnegie Hall, according to his website. He's rubbed elbows with the likes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Liberace, he said.

Fields put out eight solo albums over his career and several albums with the Irving Fields Trio. He recently released a new album called "100 Years and Still Tickling the Ivories."

Fields, who has his own YouTube channel and sells his music on iTunes, writes songs every day and said he doesn't intend to retire.

"If you love your work, you spend more time with it and you stay with it," he said. "Don't retire. Get a hobby."

He said his secret to a long life is not to eat before bed in order to get a good night's sleep.

Fields lives with his wife, Ruth, of 33 years, and has two children, Diane and Mark, one grandson, Douglas and two great-grandchildren, Ava and Luke.

He said Ava is "going to be Shirley Temple" and knows that she'll be in show business one day.

He said he wouldn't change much about his life and would even do it all over again.

"The best part of being 100 is that I get all this attention," he said. "God gave me a talent and I'm so fulfilled that I'm so happy."