Tony Bennett Retires from Performing Live

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

On August 5, Tony Bennett stepped out for an encore performance in his hometown of New York City at Radio City Music Hall. His second night of performances with Lady Gaga, following a 26-song set by the pair, Bennett graced the stage once again to sing one of his classics, the 1962 hit “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” as his final performance.

Bennett has officially retired from performing live, following news earlier this year that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016.

In a recent interview, Bennett’s son and manager Danny revealed that Bennett and Gaga’s two-night run on Aug. 3 and 5, dubbed “One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga,” would be his last, following the recent cancellation of Bennett’s upcoming scheduled several shows, including, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Staten Island.  

“There won’t be any additional concerts,” he said in the interview. ”This was a hard decision for us to make, as he is a capable performer. This is, however, doctors’ orders.”

His son added that it’s not so much Bennett’s ability to sing but more the traveling and the physical aspect of performing that is a concern. “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… We’re not worried about him being able to sing. We are worried, from a physical standpoint, about human nature. Tony’s 95.”

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett will release their second collaborative album, ‘Love Letter for Sale,’ a tribute to Cole Porter (Photo: Kelsey Bennett)

Earlier this year, Bennett revealed his diagnosis in an interview with AARP The Magazine and while he is not planning on getting on stage again, he is still singing, releasing a collection of Cole Porter covers, his second collaborative album with Lady Gaga, Love for Sale, on Oct. 1.

A follow-up to the duo’s Grammy Award-winning Cheek to Cheek in 2014, Love for Sale features duets on Porter classics like “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Night and Day,” and “It’s De-Lovely.”

Bennett’s son said that some people still did not believe his father has Alzheimer’s, because he was up there performing “strong, emotive,” and called his final shows “triumphant.” He doesn’t use a teleprompter and never misses a line, he added.

“Tony may not remember every part of doing that show,” said Danny. “But when he stepped to the side of the stage, the first thing he told me was: ‘I love being a singer.’”

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