Lady Gaga can vividly recall the moment that Tony Bennett said her name for the first time in “a long time.”
The songstress first collaborated with the crooner in 2014 for her jazz album “Cheek to Cheek.” They reunited this summer for a new album titled “Love For Sale,” as well as his last concert at Radio City Music Hall before retiring per doctors’ orders.
During an appearance on “60 Minutes,” Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, detailed how the 95-year-old exclaimed “Woah, Lady Gaga! I like that!” after she said “Hey, Tony!” during their final duets on stage.
“That’s the first time that Tony said my name in a long time,” the 35-year-old explained. “I had to keep it together, because we had a sold-out show, and I had a job to do. But I’ll tell you when I walked out on that stage, and he said, ‘It’s Lady Gaga,’ my friend saw me. And it was very special.”
Lady Gaga (R) performs with Tony Bennett during her ‘JAZZ & PIANO’ residency at Park Theater at Park MGM on January 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Park MGM Las Vegas)
In February of this year, it was announced that Bennett is battling Alzheimer’s disease. AARP magazine reported he was officially diagnosed with the progressive disease, which impacts memory and speech, in 2016. Alzheimer’s is noted as a common form of age-related dementia.
In August, the singer’s son Danny Bennett revealed to Variety that his father was pulling out of concerts in New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Arizona, Oklahoma and Canada.
“It’s not the singing aspect but rather the traveling,” Danny told the outlet at the time. “He gets tired. We don’t want him to fall on stage, for instance. We’re not worried about him being able to sing. We are worried, from a physical standpoint… about human nature.”
Gaga said she was there to walk Bennett off the stage one last time.
“It’s the last thing that I – said to Tony on stage was – ‘Mr. Bennett, it would be my honor if I could escort you off the stage,’” she said. “And he said, ‘OK.’ And I did. And, just simply being the woman that got to walk him off stage, that’s enough for me.”
Lady Gaga said it was an honor to escort Tony Bennett for the last time on stage before he officially retired.
(Photo by Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images)
The outlet shared that Bennett had no memory of performing at the legendary New York City venue. Still, Gaga insisted that Bennett’s last performance is “not a sad story.”
“It’s emotional,” she said. “It’s hard to watch somebody change. I think what’s been beautiful about this, and what’s been challenging, is to see how it affects him in some ways but to see how it doesn’t affect his talent. I think he really pushed through something to give the world the gift of knowing that things can change and you can still be magnificent.”
Bennett first noticed something was wrong in 2015 when he complained to his wife that he couldn’t remember the names of the musicians who were on stage with him during a performance.
“So, we got him a list that he put on the piano,” his wife Susan told AARP. “But he wasn’t happy about it.”
While Susan initially believed the memory lapse was part of the aging process, Bennett wanted to see a doctor.
Tony Bennett’s wife Susan is the singer’s devoted caregiver.
(Photo by Myrna M. Suarez/Getty Images)
The outlet referenced raw documentary footage from recording sessions where Bennett was “considerably more muted.” When he did speak, his words were “halting” and at times, he appeared “lost and bewildered.” Gaga,
who was aware of his condition, kept her utterances short and simple, as recommended by experts.
Today, Bennett receives plenty of support from his family. Gayatri Devi, the neurologist who diagnosed Bennett, told the outlet said she was impressed by Susan’s devotion as a caregiver. The couple tied the knot in 2007.
“I’ve been humbled by the level of devotion,” Devi explained. “She also expects a lot from him. I think her background as a teacher helps, but she’s also very much in love with him. And he rises to her expectations.”
While Bennett doesn’t wander as some do, Susan is always with him. His son Danny handles the patriarch’s business affairs. As for the music, Bennett still has singing sessions at home to stay active.
“There’s a lot about him that I miss,” Susan noted. “Because he’s not the old Tony anymore. But when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”