Bennett, who had a career spanning seven decades, scored his first major success in 1951: “Because of you.” In 1962 he recorded “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” which became his trademark. Long after other pop singers died or faded from the waves, Bennett experienced a revival in popularity: He won a Grammy in 1994 for his album “Tony Bennett: MTV Unplugged”. Since then, he has recorded duets with a number of personalities, including James Taylor, Sting and Amy Winehouse.
In 2014 he recorded an album with Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek, which debuted at # 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Pop and Rock Charts. According to the AARP article, a follow-up album with Lady Gaga will be released this spring, which was recorded between 2018 and early 2020.
Lady Gaga was aware of Bennett’s condition when they recorded their last collaboration, the article says. In documentaries from the sessions, Bennett rarely speaks and offers one-word answers such as “thank you” or “yes”.
But his appetite for everything musical remains robust. According to the magazine, he continues to rehearse a 90-minute set twice a week with longtime pianist Lee Musik – without the interruption that can characterize his speech.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, including one in ten people age 65 and over. Symptoms can initially include repeating questions, losing in familiar places, or misplacing things, and eventually hallucinations, angry outbursts, and the inability to recognize family and friends or even to communicate. Alzheimer’s is not curable.
Susan Bennett serves as her husband’s caregiver.
“I have my moments and it’s going to be very difficult,” she told the magazine. “It’s not fun to argue with someone who doesn’t understand you.” But she added that they felt happier than many other people living with Alzheimer’s.