Tony Bennett Reveals He Has Alzheimer’s Disease

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Bennett, who has had a seven-decade-long career, scored his first big hit in 1951, “Because of You.” In 1962 he recorded “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which became his signature song. Long after other crooners had died or faded from the airwaves, Bennett experienced a resurgence in popularity: He won a Grammy for his 1994 album, “Tony Bennett: MTV Unplugged.” Since then, he has recorded duets with a string of notables including James Taylor, Sting and Amy Winehouse.

He recorded an album with Lady Gaga in 2014, “Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard’s Top 200 pop and rock chart. According to the AARP article, a follow-up album with Lady Gaga, which was recorded between 2018 and early 2020, will be released this spring.

Lady Gaga was aware of Bennett’s condition when they were recording their most recent collaboration, the article said. In documentary footage of the sessions, Bennett rarely speaks, and offers one-word responses like “Thanks” or “Yeah.”

But his appetite for all things musical remains robust. According to the magazine, he continues to rehearse a 90-minute set twice a week with his longtime pianist, Lee Musiker — and does so without any of the haltingness that can characterize his speech.

More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, including one in 10 people age 65 or older. Symptoms may initially include repeating questions, getting lost in a familiar place or misplacing things, and may eventually progress to hallucinations, angry outbursts, and the inability to recognize family and friends or communicate at all. Alzheimer’s has no cure.

Susan Bennett is serving as her husband’s caregiver.

“I have my moments and it gets very difficult,” she told the magazine. “It’s no fun arguing with someone who doesn’t understand you.” But she added that they felt more fortunate than many other people living with Alzheimer’s.

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