“Happy Birthday Tony. August 3rd is Tony Bennett Day. A day for smiling. But I’ll be celebrating you a lot more than once a year,” Gaga, 37, wrote via onvia Instagram on Thursday, August 3, alongside two photos of her posing in a black gown in front of a hot dog truck in New York City. “ I’ll celebrate you every time I’m on stage singing jazz music, every time I’m with your family, every time I walk down the streets of New York I’ll look around and remember all you did for this city and the whole world. 😘.”
Bennett — who would have been 97 on Thursday — died on July 21 after a years-long battle with Alzheimer’s.
“Tony left us today, but he was still singing the other day at his piano and his last song was, ‘Because of You,’ his first #1 hit,” Bennett’s team wrote via Instagram at the time. “Tony, because of you we have your songs in our heart forever.”
Gaga then paid tribute to her frequent collaborator several days after his death.
“I will miss my friend forever. I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together,” she wrote in an Instagram post with a picture of her and the iconic jazz singer embracing. “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.”
The pair — whose 2014 album Cheek to Cheek and 2021 record Love for Sale each earned Grammys for Best Traditional Pop Vocal album — explained that their friendship was genuine and not just an onstage act.
“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,” Gaga continued in her Instagram tribute. “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.”
Gaga also spoke about “grieving the loss of Tony for a long time” due to his battle with Alzheimer’s, which he was diagnosed with in 2016. “We had a very long and powerful goodbye. … Losing Tony to Alzheimer’s has been painful but it was also really beautiful,” she wrote. “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.”
Earlier on Thursday, Tony’s eldest son, Danny Bennett, shared his father’s final words in an interview on the Today show.
“His last words to me [were], ‘Thank you,’” Danny, 69, revealed. “Can’t say it better than that.”
Bennett (real name Anthony Benedetto) is survived by wife Susan Benedetto and his four children: Danny and Dae, whom he shared with his first wife, Patricia Beech, and daughters Antonia and Joanna, whom he shared with his second wife, Sandra Grant.