Lady Gaga has shared a heartfelt eulogy to her friend and collaborator Tony Bennett, who recently died at the age of 96. “I will miss my friend forever,” she wrote on Instagram. “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 and I had this magical power. We transported ourselves to another era, modernized the music together, and gave it all new life as a singing duo. But it wasn’t 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 person’s 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
After collaborating on a version of ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’ that appeared on Bennett’s 2011 album Duets II, Gaga and Bennett teamed up for the 2014 duets album Cheek to Cheek, which was followed seven years later by Love for Sale. In 2021, the week of Bennett’s 95th birthday, the duo performed a pair of NYC shows at Radio City Music Hall.