Tony Bennett's family revealed in February that the legendary musician, 94, has been quietly living with the disease since 2016

By Abigail Adams
June 30, 2021 03:10 PM
Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga
Credit: Larry Busacca/Getty

Tony Bennett is reuniting with Lady Gaga.

Just months after his family revealed his Alzheimer's disease diagnosis to the public, the legendary musician, 94, is set to team up with the pop star and longtime friend for a special edition of MTV Unplugged set to air on Friday.

"Come witness a new chapter in Unplugged's history as Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga grace the Unplugged stage for the first time, performing fresh renditions off their brand new Jazz standards album — and a handful of surprises you definitely won't want to miss," the ticketing website for the event states.

The upcoming special will be the first collaboration for the two since they released the mega-hit album Cheek to Cheek in 2014, which they performed together at countless venues across the country.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
| Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

In a February profile for AARP, Bennett's family announced that the "Rags to Riches" singer was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in 2016. According to Bennett's wife, Susan Benedetto, 54, the hitmaker is "incapable of understanding the disease."

Alzheimer's is a brain disease characterized by progressive memory loss and can often lead to dementia, states. Many of those who suffer from the disease end up losing their ability to speak, understand and recognize their loved ones.

Still, Bennett has continued his decades-long music career following his diagnosis. His neurologist, Gayatri Devi, believes performing is beneficial for his condition.

"It kept him on his toes and also stimulated his brain in a significant way," Devi told AARP, later adding, "He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do. He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder."

LADY GAGA JAZZ & PIANO at Park Theater at Park MGM in Las Vegas
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
| Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

However, the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on Bennett. According to Devi, Bennett's memory "was so much better" before the outbreak prevented him from performing for months and called it "a real blow from a cognitive perspective."

Now, Bennett is getting back to what makes him happiest — performing, even practicing twice a week.

"Singing is everything to him. Everything," Benedetto told AARP at the time. "It has saved his life many times."

Over the years, Bennett has fostered a special relationship with Gaga. During a February interview with Gayle King for CBS This Morning, Benedetto revealed that the "Marry the Night" singer was aware of Bennett's diagnosis.

"Yes, but you know, Gaga is wonderful," Benedetto told the host at the time. And when asked whether the "My Favorite Things" hitmaker still recognizes Gaga, Benedetto said with a laugh, "Most definitely. Gaga is hard to forget."

Bennett's son, Danny, said the family even consulted Gaga before taking the Alzheimer's diagnosis public, telling AARP, "She watches his back all the time. She was like, 'Absolutely, it's just another gift that he can give to the world.'"

In addition to the upcoming Unplugged special, Bennett and Gaga are also gearing up to release their second joint album this year. A release date for the album has not yet been announced.