'I think he really pushed through something to give the world the gift of knowing that things can change and you can still be magnificent,' Gaga said.
Fans across the world were misty-eyed as they watched Lady Gaga escort the legendary Tony Bennett off stage in the final moments of their "One Last Time" concert special which aired Sunday night on CBS. "Tony, we're all so grateful to have witnessed your talent, your generosity, your creativity, your kindness, and your service through all the years," the "House of Gucci" star is seen telling the 95-year-old Bennett in a clip from the emotional evening. According to CNN, the musical icon—whose family revealed his ongoing struggle with Alzheimer's disease earlier this year—sang alongside Gaga in a two-concert series billed as his final New York performances in early August at Radio City Music Hall.
Bennett, who won over generations of fans crooning "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," also performed hits like "Fly Me to the Moon," "Steppin' Out With My Baby" and duets with Lady Gaga including "Love For Sale" and "Anything Goes" during the show on August 3. Belting out "New York, New York" before the legendary singer took the stage, Gaga teared up as she paused to talk about him. "He's my friend. He's my musical companion. And he's the greatest singer in the whole world. And I'm counting on you, New York, to make him smile. So you better cheer. You better yell. You better laugh. You better cry. You better give your soul," she told the packed audience.
Although Bennett has been performing for big crowds over his singing career spanning eight decades, his family members admitted in an interview before the concert that they weren't sure what would happen during the show. Speaking to Anderson Cooper in a 60 Minutes special, Bennett's wife, Susan Benedetto, opened up about how the legend's diagnosis has impaired his short-term memory, but not his singing talents and ability to recite lyrics. Benedetto later said that once she saw her husband's eyes twinkling on stage that night, she knew everything would be alright. "He became himself. He just turned on. It was like a light switch," she said.
Bennett's neurologist, Dr. Gayatri Devi, explained that the singer's ability to still hold his own before throngs of adoring fans is because music and performing are so ingrained in him. "People respond differently based on their strengths. In Tony's case, it's his musical memory his ability to be a performer. Those are an innate and hardwired part of his brain," she said. "So even though he doesn't know what the day might be, or where his apartment is, he still can sing the whole repertoire of the American Songbook and move people."
Although Gaga was initially unsure whether Bennett recognized her, he appeared to have no doubt when she came onstage to join him during the Radio City Music Hall concert. "I had to keep it together because we had a sold-out show, and I had a job to do. But I'll tell you, when I walked out on that stage and he said, 'It's Lady Gaga,' my friend saw me, and it was very special," the Oscar-winning pop icon told Cooper, later adding: "It's not a sad story. It's emotional. It's hard to watch somebody change. I think what's been beautiful about this and what's been challenging is to see how it affects him in some ways, but to see how it doesn't affect his talent. I think he really pushed through something to give the world the gift of knowing that things can change and you can still be magnificent."