He may have left his heart in San Francisco, but when Tony Bennett passed away recently, he left broken hearts all around the world.
Many of us have grown up listening to Tony crooning on the radio and watching him perform at televised holiday celebrations. His legendary voice has lasted for decades and with good reason–he was immensely talented. But even more impressive than his timeless renditions of the Great American Songbook, was his ability to transcend time and trends, and connect with multiple generations.
For Gen X-ers, Millennials, and even Gen Z-ers, Tony’s collaboration with Stefani Germanotta (a.k.a. Lady Gaga) is probably how they were introduced to him (him being Anthony Benedetto, a.k.a. Tony Bennett.) After their first meeting in 2011, the two icons became fast friends and began an unlikely but true friendship. Their first collaboration was on Tony’s Duets II album that came out that same year, and they went on to record an entire album of standards, Cheek to Cheek in 2014 and even embarked on a world tour together.
They went on to win awards, record another full album together, and performed on stage numerous times. They continued co-creating beautiful music even after Tony was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
When his journey with Alzheimer’s was progressing, he did still want to perform. Lady Gaga told 60 Minutes that when she came onto the stage during their “One Last Time” concert, Tony said, “It’s Lady Gaga!” which was particularly poignant. “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 [that], my friend saw me. It was very special.”
After his passing, Lady Gaga took to her Instagram page to deliver a heartfelt tribute.
“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. 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.”
We think Lady Gaga hit a high note with this one. At LCB Senior Living, we believe in the magic. When it comes to Memory Care and aging in general, we find the joy in the journey. We seek out and celebrate the budding wildflowers.
Thank you, Tony Bennett. You’ve given us all a beautiful gift!
For your own tribute to Tony, enjoy these Spotify playlists featuring some of Tony’s most memorable tunes.
And stay tuned for The Lady and The Legend, a new documentary commemorating Tony’s career and his “decade-long musical journey” with Lady Gaga that will be released in September on Paramount+.