Lady Gaga describes moment Tony Bennett said her name amid Alzheimer’s diagnosis: ‘I had to keep it together’

Singer, 95, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016

Isobel Lewis
Monday 04 October 2021 10:57
Lady Gaga describes moment Tony Bennett called her by her name on stage

Lady Gaga grew emotional as she described Tony Bennett saying her name on stage for the first time in “a long time”.

The “Rain On Me” singer first collaborated with Bennett on her 2014 jazz album Cheek to Cheek, with the pair reuniting this summer for a new album titled Love For Sale and his last ever concert at Radio City Music Hall.

Speaking to CBS, Gaga described how she had to ask Bennett, who has Alzheimer’s disease, simple questions during rehearsals.

“If I were to say, ‘Tony, would you like to sing “Love for Sale” he’ll say, ‘Yeah.’ And if I say, ‘Tony, would you like to sing “Love for Sale” or “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing”,’ he might not have as easy of a response.

“When that music comes on… something happens to him. He knows exactly what he’s doing. And what’s important for me, actually, just to make sure that I don’t get in the way of that.”

The concert opened at Radio City on Bennett’s 95th birthday, during which he introduced Gaga mid-show by saying: “Woah, Lady Gaga!” Gaga twirled in her dress, with Bennett adding: “I like that, do it again.”

Gaga told Anderson Cooper: “That’s the first time that Tony said my name in a long time.

“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. And it was very special.”

Cooper said that when he asked Bennett about playing Radio City, the 95-year-old had had no recollection of the event.

However, Gaga said that Bennett’s last concert wasn’t “a sad story”, but an “emotional” one.

“It’s hard to watch somebody change,” she said. “I think what’s been beautiful about this, and what’s been challenging, is to see how it affects him in some ways, but to see how it doesn’t affect his talent.

“I think he really pushed through something to give the world the gift of knowing that things can change and you can still be magnificent.”

Read The Independent’s five-star review of Love for Sale here.

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