Iconic traditional pop singer Tony Bennett has announced that he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which he has been reportedly living with since at least 2016. Bennett and his family revealed this diagnosis in a new issue of AARP magazine, in an effort to help reduce the stigma around the condition. The 94-year-old has also been reportedly working with Lady Gaga for a duet album, which will be a sequel to their 2014 collaborative record Cheek to Cheek.
“He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do,” Gayatri Devi, M.D., the neurologist who diagnosed Bennett in 2016 said in a statement to AARP. “He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder.”
Bennett was reportedly showing signs of Alzheimer’s during the two-year recording process of this upcoming collaborative record. Lady Gaga was reportedly aware of the condition and kept her words short and simple for Bennett to understand. According to the AARP article, one particularly daunting moment came when Lady Gaga tried to get Bennett to recall their 2015 tour. After asking Bennett if the tour was “fun every night,” Bennett reportedly replied “yeah,” without certainty.
Cheek to Cheek was a traditional pop and jazz record, with covers of songs written by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin. The album was a commercial success upon release topping the Billboard charts upon release.
It’s been a busy year for Lady Gaga so far, who performed the national anthem during the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on January 20. The artist had previously performed at a rally in support of Biden, where she sang the song “Shallow” from her Academy-Award winning film A Star is Born.