Manna Dey was born on May 1, 1919 in Kolkata. He began singing while still in school and stood first in various inter-college competitions while at Kolkata's Scottish Church College.
Manna Dey took his first formal music lessons from his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey, who was a music director and composer, and began his Bollywood career as his uncle's assistant in 1942.
He worked independently as a music director for various Hindi movies before making his singing debut with the movie Tamanna in 1943. His very first mentors were Ustad Aman Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Rahman Khan from whom he took lessons in Hindustani classical music.
One of the greatest playback singers in Indian cinema, Manna Dey sang in many Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, Malayalam, Punjabi, Kannada and Bhojpuri. He partnered with Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle for several hit duets. He also formed successful pairings with actors Raj Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna, and composers Salil Chowdhury, Hemant Kumar and Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
Manna Dey ruled the playback music scene from the 1950s to the 1970s. Some of his greatest hits are: Laga chunri mein daag (Ae Mere Pyaare Watan (Kabuliwala, 1961), Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haai (Anand, 1970), Poochho Na Kaise Maine Rain Bitaayi (Meri Surat Teri Aankhen, 1963), Chalat Musafir Moh Liya Re Pinjare Wali Muniya (Teesri Kasam, 1966), Kaun Aaya Mere Mann Ke Dwaare (Dekh Kabira Roya, 1957), Kasme Vaade Pyaar Wafa Sab (Upkar, 1967) and Dil Ka Haal Sune Dilwaala (Shree 420, 1955). He sang Mehmood's part in the duet Ek Chatur Naar (Padosan), Raj Kapoor's part in Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua (Shree 420) and Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi (Chori Chori), and Pran's famous song from Zanjeer, Yari Hai Imaan.
Manna Dey continued to sing at concerts and in Bengali cinema long after he had retired from Bollywood. Manna Dey was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1971. In 2005, he received the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honour. He was also presented with the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2007 and received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Manna Dey was married to Sulochana Kumaran who died of cancer in 2012. He is survived by his daughters Shuroma and Sumita.