Lady Gaga this week honored the memory of her friend and collaborator Tony Bennett with a moving rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon” in her first show back at her Vegas residency since his death at 96 in July.
Addressing his widow Susan Benedetto, who was apparently in the audience, Gaga said, “Susan, everybody in this audience loves you so much,” according to videos posted by audience members on social media.
The 37-year-old said she hadn’t been sure what to say about Bennett at the show — she last performed her Lady Gaga: Jazz & Piano Las Vegas residency in May 2022 — “because this whole show was for Tony.”
“The opening number, the middle numbers, all the diamonds, all the musical instruments, all the conducting, all the improvisation was in his memory,” the “Paparazzi” singer, who was decked out in a sparkly tuxedo and top hat, told the audience.
She added that if she knows him well, “he would be real mad at me for being sad. So, I couldn’t come out here and be sad.”
“I sung this song when he was alive,” she said of “Fly Me to the Moon,” “and I’m going to sing it now even though he’s not. Because he’ll never be gone.”
Gaga then went into a sultry version of Bennett’s hit accompanied by the piano, adding to his widow, “Susan, this is for you.”
The “Just Dance” singer also left a heartfelt tribute on her Instagram soon after Bennett passed away on July 21.
“I will miss my friend forever,” she wrote alongside a photo of the two of them hugging. “I will miss singing with him, recording with him, talking with him, being on stage together. With Tony, I got to live my life in a time warp. Tony & I had this magical power. We transported ourselves to another era, modernized the music together, & gave it all new life as a singing duo. But it wasn’t an act. Our relationship was very real.”
Gaga first met Bennett in 2011 at a New York benefit where she sang the Nat King Cole song “Orange Colored Sky.”
They frequently performed together and collaborated on two albums: “Cheek to Cheek” in 2014 and “Love for Sale” in 2021.
Their final performances together were at two shows at Radio City Music Hall in August 2021 celebrating Bennett’s 95th birthday.
They were Bennett’s last shows. The legendary crooner had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, making it difficult to continue performing.
Gaga said in her Instagram tribute, “Sure he taught me about music, about showbiz life, but he also showed me how to keep my spirits high and my head screwed on straight. ‘Straight ahead,’ he’d say. He was an optimist, he believed in quality work AND quality life. Plus, there was the gratitude…Tony was always grateful. He served in WWII, marched with Martin Luther King Jr., and sang jazz with the greatest singers and players in the world.”
She added that they had a “very long and powerful goodbye” as his health declined. “Though there were 5 decades between us, he was my friend. My real true friend. Our age difference didn’t matter — in fact, it gave us each something neither of us had with most people. We were from two different stages in life entirely — inspired.”