At the Robin Hood Foundation gala in New York City, where Lady Gaga had performed a cover of Nat King Cole’s “Orange Coloured Sky,” Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga first crossed paths.
On his subsequent album, Duets II, released in 2011, Bennett requested Lady Gaga to perform a duet with him in honour of his 85th birthday.
Their rendition of “The Lady Is a Tramp” would mark their first time working together and the start of a close friendship that would last throughout Bennett’s later years.
Bennett, who passed away on July 21 at the age of 96, was honoured by Gaga on Monday.
“I will miss my friend forever,” she writes. 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,” her caption continued. “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.”
You can read it in full below.
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
In 2014, Gaga and Bennett collaborated on the jazz album Cheek to Cheek, which was motivated by their friendship and Gaga’s lifelong interest in jazz music. Bennett was cited as saying at the time that Gaga is “the most talented artist I have ever met.” The record won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album and sparked a concert special Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live. They followed with a Cheek to Cheek tour in 2014-15.
Their final album was 2021’s Love for Sale, a tribute to Cole Porter which featured duets with Gaga on the title track, “Night and Day” and other Porter songs. The song “I Get a Kick Out of You” was nominated for Record of the Year as well as two other Grammy awards, and it was up for Album of the Year.
A live concert at Radio City Music Hall marked their final performance in August 2021, just a few months after Bennett revealed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to assisting with Bennett’s exit from the stage, Gaga performed “The Lady Is a Tramp” with him.
In an interview with 60 Minutes, Gaga said, “Just simply being the woman that got to walk him off stage, that’s enough for me.”