‘My real true friend’: Lady Gaga opens up on loss of Tony Bennett

Lady Gaga has bid a public farewell to a musical legend, and her close friend, more than a week after his death.

Gaga took to Instagram on Monday afternoon (Australian time) to commemorate her special relationship with jazz and traditional pop crooner Tony Bennett, who died on July 21 at the age of 96.

While the pair might have seemed unlikely friends, their shared love of music brought them together to produce two albums. Together, they introduced Bennett to a younger crowd and allowed Gaga to show a new side to her talents.

In her message, Gaga told fans she would miss her friend forever, and emphasised their partnership wasn’t all an act.

“I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together,” she wrote.

“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 … I’ve been grieving the loss of Tony for a long time. We had a very long and powerful goodbye.

“Though there were [five] decades between us, he was my friend. My real true friend.”

Gaga on Bennett’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Gaga touched on Bennett’s battle with Alzheimer’s.

He was diagnosed in 2016, five years after the pair met and collaborated on their version of The Lady Is a Tramp for Bennett’s 2011 album, Duets II.

When revealing his diagnosis, Bennett’s wife Susan told AARP Magazine the singer had been losing his ability to make decisions, and had kept his diagnosis hidden from the public for four years so he could keep working.

Gaga said losing Bennett to Alzheimer’s had been painful but also “really beautiful” while referencing one of their final live performances as a duo in their joint 2021 concerts, One Last Time: an Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

Following the concerts, Gaga revealed she got emotional when Bennett introduced her to the crowd as it was the first time he’d said her name in “a long time”, and until that point she wasn’t sure if he’d remembered who she was.

“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,” Gaga wrote on Instagram this week.

“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.”

lady gaga

Lady Gaga posted an emotional tribute to her friend and collaborator. Photo: TND/Instagram/@ladygaga

Gaga wrapped up her message by telling followers not leave older people behind when situations changed.

“Don’t flinch when you feel sad, just keep going straight ahead, sadness is part of it,” she wrote.

“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.”

Bennett’s career spanned more than 70 years, with the singer having first found fame in 1951 with his hit song, Because of You – which was also reportedly the last song he sang before his death.

Labelled “the best singer in the business” by Frank Sinatra, Bennett’s career saw highs and lows. His popularity ultimately endured and he was able to release a stream of music in his later years with collaborators such as John Legend, Mariah Carey and Amy Winehouse.

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