“I will miss my friend forever,” Gaga wrote in a lengthy Instagram post late Sunday night. “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.”
Bennett, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, made his last public appearance with Gaga at Radio City Music Hall in August 2021 for their “One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga” concert.
The pair released two albums together, including 2021’s “Love for Sale,” a Cole Porter tribute that included solo selections such as “Do I Love You,” “I Get a Kick Out of You, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Let’s Do It.” It was Bennett’s 61st and final studio recording. Their previous collaboration was on 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek.”
“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,” Gaga said. “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.”
Gaga continued, “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 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. I’ll never forget this experience. I’ll never forget Tony Bennett,” she said. “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.”
As part of their promotional campaign for the “Love for Sale” album, a behind-the-scenes video captured the endearing relationship and friendship between the two renowned artists. In one scene, Gaga is reduced to tears as Bennett sits down to sketch her. “I was thinking of doing a sketch of you for the cover, a nice, clean picture of you,” he tells her. In what becomes the artwork for the album, Gaga tells Bennett, “It’s beautiful, it’s so beautiful. It makes me cry.”
Read Gaga’s full tribute below.