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Reflecting on Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett's Cherished, Enduring Friendship

Tony Bennett, iconic jazz and pop vocalist, dies at 96.

Tony Bennett, a legendary jazz and pop vocalist, passed away at the age of 96 on July 21, 2023. Despite his departure, his legacy lives on. Bennett's career soared in the 1950s, earning him 19 Grammy Awards throughout his lifetime. Known for his prolific collaborations, Bennett worked with iconic artists such as Amy Winehouse and Diana Krall. However, it was his partnership with Lady Gaga in his later years that truly stood out.

Lady Gaga, although yet to publicly address Bennett's death, expressed deep admiration and respect for him throughout their friendship. Over the span of more than a decade, the duo released two albums and a documentary together. Their unwavering support for one another was evident in their bond. Let's delve into the story behind their remarkable connection.

The initial encounter between Gaga and Bennett took place at the Robin Hood Foundation charity gala in 2011. While Bennett witnessed Gaga's performance of the jazz standard "Orange Colored Sky" from the audience, he was captivated by her talent. Intrigued, he went backstage to meet her, and from that moment on, a profound friendship was formed. Gaga reminisced about their first meeting, sharing with People in 2014, "We were fast friends - friends ever since [our first meeting]. Tony heard me sing it, and he asked to meet me after the show. And I said, 'Oh my gosh! Tony Bennett's here!'"

In a joint interview with Parade in 2014, Bennett and Gaga fondly recalled their first encounter. Bennett was amazed by Gaga's performance and went backstage to meet her and her parents. Gaga, overwhelmed with joy, remembered feeling sweaty after her performance and was surprised to learn that Bennett wanted to meet her. They celebrated the occasion with champagne, and Gaga expressed her happiness at meeting him.

Interestingly, even during their first meeting, the duo discussed the possibility of collaborating. Gaga shared with People in 2014, "He said, 'Do you want to do a jazz album together?' And I said, 'Yes, of course I do!'" This conversation laid the foundation for their future musical endeavors.

Their first collaboration materialized with a duet of the show tune "The Lady Is a Tramp," featured on Bennett's 2011 album "Duets II." This successful venture was followed by the release of their joint album "Cheek to Cheek" in 2014. The album received critical acclaim and won a Grammy in 2015 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. In 2021, they released another album titled "Love For Sale," which showcased their interpretation of Cole Porter songs.

Gaga expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to work with Bennett on "Love For Sale," calling it a gift that she will cherish forever. She also quoted Frank Sinatra, who regarded Bennett as the best singer in the world, and added, "I don't think Frank lied."

Throughout their partnership, Bennett and Gaga performed at numerous events and held their final concerts together in August 2021, when Bennett was 95 years old. These performances were later transformed into a documentary titled "One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga."

Gaga openly acknowledged how Bennett's presence in her life had a transformative effect, particularly during a period when she felt constrained by the pressures of being a pop star. In 2014, Gaga revealed to Parade that she had lost her desire to sing before meeting Bennett. She credited him with saving her life, expressing her gratitude to him every day.

Expanding on this sentiment in an interview with The Telegraph in 2014, Gaga described Bennett as someone who brought immense happiness into her life and allowed her to break free from the confines of a predetermined image. She said, "He has made me so happy in the way that I really needed to feel. He's really, like, saved my life... 'Cause I really love music, and I really love being a singer, but I really hate being put in a box. And when I get put in a box I get very like a wild animal. And he let me be free. And I get to be with him while I'm doing it, and he's teaching me all these life lessons, and I'm singing music I've loved my whole life."

Mutual admiration and respect defined their relationship. Bennett praised Gaga's contributions to their album "Cheek to Cheek," comparing her to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. Gaga, in turn, acknowledged Bennett's influence on her life and career. She even got a tattoo of Miles Davis's trumpet, sketched by Bennett himself, with his last name, Benedetto, underneath, as a permanent reminder of their time together.

In 2016, Bennett revealed his diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, and Gaga continued to support him unwaveringly. In a 2021 interview with AARP Magazine, Danny Bennett, Tony's oldest son, mentioned that he consulted with Gaga before Tony's decision to publicly announce his diagnosis. Gaga's response was unequivocal, emphasizing her commitment to looking out for Bennett's well-being. Danny expressed his gratitude, stating, "She watches his back all the time."

When their album "Love For Sale" received six Grammy nominations in 2021, Gaga took to Instagram to honor Bennett and their enduring musical bond. She expressed her gratitude to the public for their love and support, emphasizing the power of love and partnership. Despite the significant age difference and Bennett's battle with Alzheimer's, Gaga believed that the magic of music transcended these challenges. She concluded her post by declaring her love for Tony and acknowledging the world's admiration for him.

During the recording of their final shows, Gaga witnessed a touching moment that reaffirmed Bennett's memory of her. She recounted how Bennett referred to her as "sweetheart" during rehearsals but, on their last night together, he said, "It's Lady Gaga." This simple act of remembering her name meant the world to her, and she expressed her eternal gratitude for this gift.

On July 13, 2023, Bennett paid his final tribute to Gaga by sharing a video of their performance of "Night and Day" on Instagram. The caption read, "Remembering the musical magic made in the studio with the remarkable Lady Gaga."

The photos showcased in this article offer glimpses into the deep friendship between Gaga and Bennett, capturing the essence of their bond throughout the years. Their partnership was one of mutual admiration, support, and artistic growth.

Tony Bennett's passing marks the end of an era, but his legacy lives on through his music and the profound impact he had on those he collaborated with, including Lady Gaga. Their friendship was a testament to the transformative power of music and the enduring connections it can create. As Gaga once said, "I really love being a singer, but I really hate being put in a box." With Bennett by her side, she found the freedom to break free from that box and embrace her true artistic self.

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