Tony Bennett, the iconic singer of jazz, show tunes and standards, has shared that the singer has battled Alzheimer’s disease over the past four years in a new feature in AARP magazine. It was also revealed that Bennett has completed a second album with Lady Gaga that will drop this year. The unlikely duo previously teamed on 2011’s “The Lady Is a Tramp” and their 2014 Cheek To Cheek album.
In revealing the diagnosis, Bennett, 94, is characterized in the story as having “increasingly rare moments of clarity and awareness” which “reveal the depths of his debility.” The Bennett family hopes to reduce the stigma around the degenerative neurological disease by going public with his battle.
In 2018, Gaga and Bennett began recording together at New York’s Electric Lady Studios, finishing the songs in early 2020. Footage of those sessions was shot, revealing the depth of his Alzheimers, the article revealed.
“He speaks rarely, and when he does his words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered. Gaga, clearly aware of his condition, keeps her utterances short and simple (as is recommended by experts in the disease when talking to Alzheimer’s patients). “You sound so good, Tony,” she tells him at one point. “Thanks,” is his one-word response,” reports the magazine.
Gaga calls Bennett “an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure” and apparently burst into tears watching him sing in the studio.
Bennett’s son and manager, Danny Bennett asked Gaga’s opinion before going public with his father’s diagnosis. AARP reports that she said, “Absolutely, it’s just another gift that he can give to the world.”
The pair went on tour in 2015 to celebrate Cheek to Cheek.
Bennett enjoyed a career resurrection in his late 60s when he won a 1994 best album Grammy for Tony Bennett: MTV Unplugged. He’s also collaborated on duet recordings John Mayer, K.D. Lang, Sting, the late Amy Winehouse and more. He’s won 20 Grammys, two Emmys and numerous other accolades over a wide-ranging career.
His wife, Susan Benedetto (Bennett’s given last name) says that while her husband hasn’t been painting much — another one of his talents — that still, “Singing is everything to him. Everything. It has saved his life many times. Many times. Through divorces and things. If he ever stops singing, that’s when we’ll know …”
Bennett’s last public performance was on March 11, 2020 in Red Bank, NJ.