Lady Gaga, 36, has spoken out about the death of her beloved friend and collaborator, Tony Bennett. In a moving Instagram tribute, the singer captioned a photo of her hugging Tony that she 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.”
Lady Gaga said that she had been “grieving the loss of Tony for a long time” due to his battle with Alzheimer’s. While losing her dear friend to the disease “has been painful,” she noted that 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,” she said. Their 5-decade age difference “didn’t matter” because it “gave us each something neither of us had with most people.”
Tony died on July 21, 2023, seven years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016. He continued performing with the disease through February 2021, which is when he announced his diagnosis to the public. He retired from performing in August of that year. “The decision is being made that doing concerts now is just too much for him. We don’t want him to fall on stage, for instance — something as simple as that,” Tony’s wife, Susan, told Variety at the time. “We’re not worried about him being able to sing,” his son and manager, Danny Bennett added. “We are worried, from a physical stand point… about human nature. Tony’s 95.”
Of course, Tony retired in style and alongside his dear friend, Lady Gaga. The pair sang their hearts out at two sold-out shows in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall in August 2021. The first show fell on the icon’s 95th birthday, and Lady Gaga had the entire room sing to him. Speaking about the special shows in an interview with 60 Minutes, Lady Gaga recalled feeling quite emotional after Tony introduced her on stage. “That’s the first time that Tony said my name in a long time,” she said. “I had to keep it together because we had a sold-out show and I have 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. It was very special.”
The farewell shows were called One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga and preceded the release of Lady Gaga and Tony’s second album together, Love for Sale. In 2014, they released their first duet album, titled Cheek to Cheek. The dynamic duo’s first album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, per Billboard, while their sophomore collaboration peaked at No. 8.
The “Born This Way” hitmaker never stopped showing her love for Tony over the years and even dedicated the song “Always Remember Us This Way” to him at the Aug. 11 show of her Chromatica Ball tour. “And even though things are different I feel so very blessed that his wonderful wife Susan is with him every day and even though Tony couldn’t be here tonight, Susan, I always want to remember us just like this,” Lady Gaga sweetly said before she turned to her piano.