Tony Bennett, who celebrated his 95th birthday with a pair of Radio City Music Hall shows featuring Lady Gaga last week, has performed for the last time. The living legend’s son Danny Bennett confirmed the rescheduled casino shows this fall will not take place amid health concerns. Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, although he did not announce his diagnosis until February.
“There won’t be any additional concerts,” Danny, who has managed his father’s career for the past four decades, told Variety on Thursday. Danny, 66, called it a “hard decision” for the family since Bennett could still perform. However, the “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” singer’s doctors advised him not to perform the casino shows. When his wife Susan heard what the doctors said, she agreed that Bennett should not perform live again.
“He’ll be doing other things, but not those upcoming shows. It’s not the singing aspect but, rather, the traveling. Look, he gets tired. The decision is being made that doing concerts now is just too much for him. We don’t want him to fall on stage, for instance — something as simple as that,” Danny said. “We’re not worried about him being able to sing. We are worried, from a physical standpoint… about human nature. Tony’s 95.”
Bennett and Lady Gaga reunited for Love for Sale, their second duets album, and made up entirely of Cole Porter songs. The album will be released on Oct. 1 and features “I Get a Kick Out of You.” Gaga and Bennett performed at Radio City Music Hall in New York City to help promote the album, giving a “triumphant” performance, Danny noted. Bennett was then set to play casinos from September to December to make up for a postponed pre-pandemic tour. Sadly those shows will not happen, so the Radio City Music Hall performances will serve as the end of Bennett’s legendary career on the stage.
Bennett’s Radio City Hall shows went so well that some fans accused the Bennett family of lying about his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, Danny told Variety. Fans wondered how he could still perform at the same level he has for decades. “My answer is that this is where he has lived his whole life and where he is most happy — on the stage, making music,” Danny said.
“Dealing as we have with Alzheimer’s for the last four-five years, it’s cognitive,” he went on to explain. “He has short-term memory loss. That, however, does not mean that he doesn’t still have all this stored up inside of him. He doesn’t use a Teleprompter. He never misses a line. He hits that stage and goes. Tony may not remember every part of doing that show. But, when he stepped to the side of the stage, the first thing he told me was: ‘I love being a singer.'”
Bennett, who was born in Queens, is one of the last living singers of his generation, earning his first big hit with “Because of You” in 1951. After years of struggling, Danny helped revive his father’s career in the early 1990s by introducing him to the MTV generation. In 1994, he even filmed an MTV Unplugged episode, and the album won the Grammy for Album of the Year. Bennett found another audience when he teamed up with Gaga for Cheek to Cheek in 2014.