A week and a half ago, the legendary crooner Tony Bennett died at the age of 96. Bennett lived many lives in the spotlight, and his latest reinvention was as Lady Gaga’s duet partner. Bennett and Gaga first sang together on a version of “The Lady Is A Tramp” on Bennett’s 2011 album Duets II. After that, Bennett and Gaga released two studio albums together, 2014’s Cheek To Cheek and 2021’s Love For Sale. Bennett’s final performances — a pair of 2021 farewell shows at Radio City Music Hall and an MTV Unplugged taping — were alongside Gaga. Now, Gaga has written a tribute to Bennett.
On her Instagram, Lady Gaga has written a heartfelt eulogy, talking about spending time with Tony Bennett and about seeing how Alzheimer’s affected him. “It wasn’t an act,” Gaga writes. “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… 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 person’s life.” Here’s Gaga’s full eulogy:
I will miss my friend forever. I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together. 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. But it wasn’t 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. He served in WWII, marched with Martin Luther King Jr., and sang jazz with the greatest singers and players in the world.
I’ve been grieving the loss of Tony for a long time. We had a very long and powerful goodbye.
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. We were from two different stages in life entirely — inspired. 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 person’s 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. I’ll never forget this experience. I’ll never forget Tony Bennett. 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. 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
This morning, Lady Gaga also announced the return of her Jazz & Piano shows in Las Vegas, and you can probably expect more Tony Bennett tributes there.