The singer-songwriter took to Instagram on Monday with a picture of her embracing Bennett in a dressing room to grieve the loss of her longtime collaborator who recently died on July 21 at the age of 96.
"I will miss my friend forever. I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together," Gaga began. "With Tony, I got to live my life in a time warp. Tony & I had this magical power. We transported ourselves to another era, modernized the music together, & gave it all new life as a singing duo. But it wasn't an act. Our relationship was very real."
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The musician went on to reflect that Bennett had not only been her friend, but he was also a teacher to her in every sense – teaching her "about music [and] about showbiz life," and showing her "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." Gaga added, explaining that his various achievements always left him "grateful."
"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," she said.
"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," Gaga wrote. "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."
The superstar actress later touched upon Bennett's cause of death, saying that "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 person's life. All I wanted was for Tony to remember how much I loved him and how grateful I was to have him in my life," she explained. "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," Gaga continued. "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," she said, concluding with, "I love you Tony. Love, Lady."
While Bennett's Alzheimer’s diagnosis became public in 2021, this didn't stop the legendary artist from continuing his streak of quality music and live performances. He and Gaga’s friendship spanned over a decade, with their most recent collaboration being the 2021 album Love For Sale which in turn went on to win a Grammy in 2022.
Gaga performed the album’s titular track at the Grammys that very same year, tearfully saying "I love you Tony, we miss you," after the showman introduced her performance over video.