Opinion / Celebrity Diagnosis

Tony Bennett Discloses Alzheimer's Disease Dx

6 min read
Legendary singer breaks silence
Music legend Tony Bennett, 94, has just broken his silence about a big secret. In an interview for AARP, Bennett revealed that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease 4 years ago!

Although he's been able to work over those four years, the toll on his mental faculties has become increasingly noticeable. Although he still recognizes his family members, both his short-term and long-term memory have deteriorated dramatically. Interviewer John Colapinto noted Bennett gazing at his lavishly illustrated book, "Tony Bennett Onstage and in the Studio" (2018). "He stared into its pages not with the air of warm reminiscence but like a man struggling to recall why these images seemed familiar." His wife, Susan, added that Tony is "not always sure where he is or what is happening around him. Mundane objects as familiar as a fork or a set of house keys can be utterly mysterious to him."

Between 2018 and early 2020, Bennett recorded a second album of duets with Lady Gaga, a follow-up to the Billboard's Top 200 pop and rock number one album with Gaga in 2014. Previously known for being a "meticulous and hard-driving perfectionist in the studio," Tony was much more subdued during the new recording. In raw documentary footage of the recording sessions "he speaks rarely, and when he does his words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered." In addition, Gaga, who considers Bennett to be "an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure" is seen breaking down in tears as Tony sings a solo passage of a love song.

The album is due to be released this spring. But although both singers are in superb voice, Bennett will be unable to do promotional interviews. Susan and Bennett's son Danny (who has also been his business manager for the past 40 years) jointly decided it was time to break the silence about his diagnosis so that as many fans as possible will hear what will most likely be his last record. In addition, they hope the album may signal a more hopeful message.…
Michele R. Berman, MD, and Mark S. Boguski, MD, PhD
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