tony bennett

Pop Culture

An ode to the wholesome friendship between Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

The pop star credited Bennett, who died on July 21 at age 96, with making her fall in love with music again after nearly quitting.

An amazing music duo, sure. But also loving friends.

Few celebrity friendships are as wholesome as the one shared between Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The icons would release two Grammy-winning, chart-topping albums together and perform two sold-out concerts at Radio City Music Hall, but they were much more than creative collaborators.

Bennett, who passed away on July 21 at age 96, previously told Parade that he first met Gaga, whom he lovingly called “Lady,” at a charity concert, where she performed the jazz standard "Orange Colored Sky".

Struck by how she could captivate a crowd, Bennett immediately went backstage to meet her (a huge and pleasant surprise, Gaga would recall) and suggested they do an album together, which would later be titled, “Cheek to Cheek.”

This interaction had a profound effect on the pop idol, who at the time had been disillusioned with the music industry and “didn’t even want to sing” anymore. But recording together reignited her passion.

"All of a sudden, I'm singing in the studio with Tony and my childhood is flashing before me. All of those moments singing Ella Fitzgerald, being in the jazz band in high school and jazz being my first love. It's been really exciting to revisit everything again and go back to my roots,” she told USA Today.

Because of that reaffirmation, Gaga credits the crooner for “saving her life.” According to People, she would even end up getting a tattoo of a trumpet, drawn by Bennett, “just so I would always remember this time together.”

The duo’s friendship would continue to deepen throughout the years. Gaga became an advocate for Alzheimer's after Bennett’s diagnosis in 2016. In an interview with 60 Minutes in 2022, she shared how “beautiful” and “challenging” it was to watch someone she cared about change, but at the same time have his talent be unaffected.

"When that music comes on ... something happens to him," she said. "He knows exactly what he’s doing. I think he really pushed through something to give the world the gift of knowing things can change and you can still be magnificent.”

Though Gaga hasn’t commented on Bennett’s death, her sentiments are likely akin to what she said of “Love For Sale,” their last album made together: “The celebration of jazz, and us as musical companions, will live on with me forever.”

Fueled by a deep love of music, Tony Bennett wholeheartedly shared the spotlight (and his infectious joy) with singers across virtually all genres, singing duets with everyone from Barbara Streisand to Paul McCartney to Amy Winehouse to John Legend. He even sang with country superstar Carrie Underwood.

Besides God-given talent, Bennett had a childlike spirit that brought out the best in others, and he will be missed.