Obit Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett, left, and Lady Gaga perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, in April 2015 in New Orleans. Bennett died on July 21, at age 96. Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP, file

Lady Gaga paid tribute to timeless singer and her “real true friend” Tony Bennett on Sunday, nearly a week after his death. In doing so, she vehemently urged fans take care of their elders.

Reflecting on their personal and professional relationship, the “A Star is Born” Oscar winner recalled how Bennett shared some of his most vulnerable moments during his battle with Alzheimer’s disease with her.

“We had a very long and powerful goodbye,” the 37-year-old wrote. “Though there were 5 decades between us, he was my friend. My real true friend. Our age difference didn’t matter – in fact, it gave us each something neither of us had with most people.”

The “Shallow” singer, who witnessed Bennett’s neurological decline firsthand, said that she’d “been grieving the loss of Tony for a long time.”

“I will miss my friend forever. I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of her hugging her “Cheek to Cheek” collaborator.

“With Tony, I got to live my life in a time warp. Tony & I had this magical power. We transported ourselves to another era, modernized the music together, & gave it all new life as a singing duo,” she continued. “But it wasnt an act. Our relationship was very real. Sure he taught me about music, about showbiz life, but he also showed me how to keep my spirits high and my head screwed on straight. ‘Straight ahead,’ he’d say. He was an optimist, he believed in quality work AND quality life. Plus, there was the gratitude…Tony was always grateful.”


Thanks to their duet on the standards-only recording “Cheek to Cheek,” the “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” singer became the oldest living artist to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 2014. The recording broke the record Bennett set three years earlier when he reached No. 1 with his “Duets II” album that featured songs with Amy Winehouse, Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and other contemporary singers.

He and Gaga also hit the road together and earned a pop-vocal album Grammy for “Cheek to Cheek.” Though the album was released to mixed reviews, their energetic performance during the 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony pleasantly surprised some of the skeptics. A year later, Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but his family did not make the news public until 2021.


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Even so, in 2022, Bennett became the second-oldest Grammy winner with “Love for Sale,” a collection of Cole Porter standards recorded with Gaga. (He won his 19th Grammy a year later with “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern.”)

“We were from two different stages in life entirely – inspired,” Gaga wrote. “Losing Tony to Alzheimer’s has been painful but it was also really beautiful. An era of memory loss is such a sacred time in a persons life. There’s such a feeling of vulnerability and a desire to preserve dignity. All I wanted was for Tony to remember how much I loved him and how grateful I was to have him in my life. But, as that faded slowly I knew deep down he was sharing with me the most vulnerable moment in his life that he could – being willing to sing with me when his nature was changing so deeply.”

The “House of Gucci” star added she’d never forget that experience with Bennett, or Bennett himself.

“If I could say anything to the world about this I would say don’t discount your elders, don’t leave them behind when things change,” she wrote. “Don’t flinch when you feel sad, just keep going straight ahead, sadness is part of it. Take care of your elders and I promise you will learn something special. Maybe even magical. And pay attention to silence–some of my musical partner and I’s most meaningful exchanges were with no melody at all.

“I love you Tony. Love, Lady,” she concluded.

On Monday, Gaga announced 12 dates for her Las Vegas residency at the Dolby Live Theater inside Park MGM. The “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance” singer will play a dozen “Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano” shows between Aug. 31 and Oct. 5 that are billed as “stripped-down versions of her hits alongside music from the Great American Songbook.”

The megastar began her Enigma residency in late 2018 and introduced her “Jazz & Piano” performances in January 2019. She closed out a leg of the residency last spring with nine “Jazz & Piano” shows.

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