Legendary singer Tony Bennett, with the help of his family, revealed Monday that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, and has been silently battling the condition since then.
“Life is a gift — even with Alzheimer’s. Thank you to (my wife) Susan and my family for their support, and AARP The Magazine for telling my story,” read a tweet on his personal account.
In an article written by John Colapinto in AARP magazine, the 94-year-old Bennett’s condition is outlined.
While “so far (Bennett) has been spared the disorientation that can prompt patients to wander from home, as well as the episodes of terror, rage or depression,” it’s clear, Colapinto writes, that the disease has progressed over the last four years.
The magazine says he endures “increasingly rarer moments of clarity and awareness” as he faces the irreversible brain condition.
Still, he continues to rehearse and twice a week goes through his 90-minute set with his longtime pianist, Lee Musiker. The magazine says he sings with perfect pitch and apparent ease.
A beloved interpreter of American standards, Bennett’s chart-topping career spans seven decades. “He’s not the old Tony anymore,” his wife, Susan, told the magazine. “But when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”
For more than 40 years, Bennett has been managed by his son, Danny. In the last decade, Bennett has seen some of the greatest successes of his career, including Cheek to Cheek, his duets release with Lady Gaga in 2014.
Bennett gained his first pop success in the early 1950s and enjoyed a career revival in the 1990s and became popular with younger audiences in part because of an appearance on MTV Unplugged. His last public performance was on March 11, 2020, in New Jersey.
A follow-up to Cheek to Cheek, recorded between 2018 and early 2020, will be released in a few months.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
— With files from The Associated Press