Tony Bennett Reveals Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
Tony Bennett — the era-spanning singer who's synonymous with big band tunes, has performed with Lady Gaga and mingled in country music — is living with Alzheimer's disease.
The vocalist's wife, Susan, revealed the news in an AARP interview that emerged on Monday (Feb. 1).
The 94-year-old performer was diagnosed with the degenerative disease that affects memory and other mental functions back in 2016, after he started showing symptoms the year prior. That's what Susan and Bennett's oldest son, Danny — also the singer's manager — told the magazine of the American Association of Retired Persons. However, the Bennetts kept the diagnosis under wraps until now.
"I feel badly talking about it because we are so much more fortunate than so many people with this diagnosis," Susan says. "We have such a good team. Danny handles Tony's business affairs. We have great doctors, [a trainer] helping us with [Bennett's] exercise."
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bennett was still performing regularly, the ailment seemingly not affecting his ability to entertain. But Susan knew something was wrong in 2015 when he started forgetting musicians' names and began stashing a cheat sheet on a piano, as the New York Times summarizes. Still, even after the diagnosis, Bennett and his clan maintain a positive outlook.
"Life is a gift," Bennett relays via his official Twitter account, "even with Alzheimer's. Thank you to Susan and my family for their support, and AARP The Magazine for telling my story."
Bennett's career covers seven decades, but modern listeners might know him best from his duets with Lady Gaga, a collection of which arrived in 2014 as Cheek to Cheek. The album spawned two successful singles, "Anything Goes" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." The pair have been recording a sequel album, albeit sporadically, over the last two years. It's expected out soon.
What country fans might not realize is that Bennett has a soft spot for Nashville and its music, as the Tennessean reported a few years ago. The singer first traveled through Music City in the 1950s — in 1951, Bennett turned Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart" into a pop-standard smash. He sang the song at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956, three years after Williams' death. Of course, Bennett has since collaborated with Willie Nelson, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
Plenty of country musicians and their families have also been affected by Alzheimer's disease. That list includes Sara Evans, Jay Allen, the late Hal Ketchum and the iconic Glen Campbell, among others.