Tony Bennett Reveals Alzheimer's Disease Diagnosis

Tony Bennett has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the legendary musician announced in a new profile with AARP magazine Monday. "Life is a gift – even with Alzheimer's. Thank you to [wife] Susan and my family for their support, and AARP The Magazine for telling my story," he wrote on Twitter alongside the article. Bennett, 94, revealed in the article that he was officially diagnosed with the disease in 2016, a year after touring with Lady Gaga after their release of the chart-topping album Cheek to Cheek.

Bennett has not experienced some of the worst symptoms of Alzheimer's, such as wandering away from home, terror, rage or depression, but his wife Susan said in the article he is "not always sure where he is or what is happening around him." Bennett's medical team has encouraged him to continue singing and performing to stimulate his brain in a positive way, and a follow-up to Cheek to Cheek, recorded between 2018 and early 2020, is scheduled to be released in the spring.

In raw documentary footage from the album's recording session previewed for the piece, AARP magazine describes an exchange with Gaga, who was aware of his diagnosis while working with him. "You sound so good, Tony," she tells him in the footage, speaking in short sentences as recommended by experts. He replies only, "Thanks." When Gaga adds that she thinks "all the time" about their 2015 tour, Tony looks at her without speaking. "Wasn't that fun every night?" she asks again, to which he replies uncertainly, "Yeah."

Bennett last performed in public on March 11, 2020, at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, New Jersey. Both Bennett's wife and son Danny, who has been his manager for 40 years, told the magazine that while the musician could seem "utterly mystified" about his whereabouts, as soon as he hears his name called on stage, he would "transform himself into performance mode" and step out into the spotlight to enjoy the applause.

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Danny told the magazine that his family hopes coming forward with his condition can help raise awareness and destigmatize Alzheimer's, something that Gaga supported right off the bat. "I wanted to check with her to make sure she was cool," he said, "because she watches his back all the time. She was like, 'Absolutely, it's just another gift that he can give to the world.'"