Earlier this month, the legendary jazz and pop singer’s publicist announced that Tony had died in his hometown of New York City, at the age of 96.
A number of public figures paid their respects in the days after his death, with Gaga now sharing a tribute of her own on her Instagram page.
“I will miss my friend forever,” Gaga began, as she shared a photo of them embracing. “I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together.
“With Tony, I got to live my life in a time warp. Tony & I had this magical power. We transported ourselves to another era, modernised the music together, & gave it all new life as a singing duo. But it wasn’t an act. Our relationship was very real,” she said.
“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. 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 continued: “I’ve been grieving the loss of Tony for a long time. We had a very long and powerful goodbye.
“Though there were 5 decades between us, he was my friend. My real true friend. Our age difference didn’t matter – in fact, it gave us each something neither of us had with most people. We were from two different stages in life entirely – inspired.
“Losing Tony to Alzheimer’s has been painful but it was also really beautiful. 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.
“If I could say anything to the world about this I would say don’t discount your elders, don’t leave them behind when things change. Don’t flinch when you feel sad, just keep going straight ahead, sadness is part of it. Take care of your elders and I promise you will learn something special. Maybe even magical. And pay attention to silence—some of my musical partner and I’s most meaningful exchanges were with no melody at all.
“I love you Tony. Love, Lady,” she added.
Tony and Gaga first worked together in 2012, teaming up on the song The Lady Is A Tramp, as part of the late music legend’s album Duets II.
Following this, Tony hailed Gaga as a “phenomenal jazz singer”, as well as a “good friend”, with the pair releasing their first duets collection, Cheek To Cheek, in 2014.
Seven years later, they teamed up a second time on the 2021 album Love For Sale, which celebrated the music of Cole Porter.
Love For Sale was nominated for three Grammys, winning two and making Tony the oldest nominee in a general field in the awards show’s history, thanks to its recognition in the Album Of The Year category.
The album would eventually become Tony’s final musical release in his lifetime.
At the 2022 Grammys, Gaga performed the album’s title track as a solo, and paid a special tribute to Tony, who by this point had retired from performing due to his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
“The fact that Tony sees me as a natural-born jazz singer is still something that I haven’t gotten over,” Gaga told AARP in 2021, shortly after Tony – who she also described as “an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure” – went public with his condition.
Watch the music video for Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s cover of I Get A Kick Out Of You below: