Lady Gaga Pays Tribute to Tony Bennett: ‘I Will Miss My Friend Forever’

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Lady Gaga shared this uncredited photo on her Instagram account on July 31, 2023

Ten days after Tony Bennett died, Lady Gaga has written a lengthy tribute to her friend and collaborator. “I will miss my friend forever,” the July 31 post began. “I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together.” Though the duo were born 60 years apart, she found that it inspired them. “Our age difference didn’t matter,” she wrote, “in fact, it gave us each something neither of us had with most people. We were from two different stages in life entirely—inspired.” Read it in its entirety below.

When Bennett turned 95 on August 3, 2021, he celebrated with a performance with Lady Gaga that evening, and a second concert two nights’ later. Bennett was scheduled to give six more shows that fall; all were canceled a week later on Aug. 12.

At the time, Bennett’s son and manager, Danny Bennett told Variety that his father has retired from the stage. “There won’t be any additional concerts,” Danny says. “This was a hard decision for us to make, as he is a capable performer. This is, however, doctors’ orders. His continued health is the most important part of this, and when we heard the doctors — when Tony’s wife, Susan heard them — she said, ‘Absolutely not.’ He’ll be doing other things, but not those upcoming shows. It’s not the singing aspect but, rather, the traveling. Look, he gets tired. 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.”

The legend shared the stage one last time at New York’s famed Radio City Music Hall with fellow native New Yorker Lady Gaga for two nights only to celebrate a decade of music and friendship.

One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga opened on August 3, 2021, which was Bennett’s 95th birthday, with a second performance on August 5. Both performances were a quick sell-out when they went on sale to the general public on July 22.

On Feb. 1, 2021, Bennett revealed that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease four years earlier. In an interview with AARP, the singing legend and his wife, Susan, shared the heartbreaking news.

The signs were evident during recording sessions with Lady Gaga in 2018, when the pair were working on a follow-up album of standards to 2014’s Cheek to Cheek.

Bennett and Lady Gaga released a new album, Love For Sale, on Oct. 1, 2021. The first release from the Cole Porter tribute LP, “I Get a Kick Out of You,” was released on Bennett’s 95th birthday.

The concerts at Radio City were Bennett’s last NYC performances of his career, set appropriately at a venue that he has enjoyed a multi-decade run of sold-out shows.

The One Last Time performances at Radio City featured song renditions from the Great American Songbook of popular and jazz standards that Bennett and Gaga have claimed as part of their legacy over the past decade. The Tony Bennett Quartet and the Brian Newman Quintet were joined by a big band and orchestra conducted by Michael Bearden.

Watch the official trailer for the Love For Sale album

Watch the video for the title track

Watch Bennett and Gaga sing a favorite from their 2014 album

On Bennett’s 95th birthday, New York State officially proclaimed the day, Tony Bennett Day. Then-Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement that read, in part: “Not only is Tony a born and bred New Yorker who has been dazzling audiences with beautiful music for more than six decades, but he has always stayed true to his humble New York roots and can always be spotted throughout the City. From growing up as a child of immigrants, to all the contributions he has made to our community, Tony Bennett is a New Yorker in the truest sense of the word.”

The bench endowed in Central Park in Tony Bennett’s name

Sony Music Entertainment, the parent company for Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings divisions, endowed a bench in Bennett’s name in Central Park, his most cherished spot in his hometown of NYC.

Lady Gaga’s complete July 31, 2023, tribute to Bennett:

“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 wasnt 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 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. 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”

Related: Our obituary and appreciation of Tony Bennett

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. Nonny
    #1 Nonny 3 August, 2021, 11:47

    Happy “95” Birthday Mr Tony Bennet!!
    “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”

    Reply this comment
  2. RecordSteve
    #2 RecordSteve 4 August, 2021, 19:34

    Soon we will be in the Christmas season hearing/singing along with your wonderful
    festive music…one more time!

    Reply this comment

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