Tony Bennett just celebrated his 95th birthday last week with a pair of shows at Radio City Music Hall alongside Lady Gaga. The gigs were billed as his final concerts in New York City, but it turns out they may be his last shows permanently. The legendary jazz and pop singer has just canceled his fall 2021 tour dates, reports Variety.
Update: In an interview with Variety, Tony’s son and manager, Danny Bennett, confirmed that his father has played his final shows. “There won’t be any additional concerts,” Danny said. “This was a hard decision for us to make, as he is a capable performer. This is, however, doctors’ orders. His continued health is the most important part of this, and when we heard the doctors — when Tony’s wife, Susan heard them — she said, ‘Absolutely not.’ 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. We’re not worried about him being able to sing. We are worried, from a physical stand point… about human nature. Tony’s 95.”
Bennett’s tour was originally announced before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it had to be rescheduled once lockdown went into effect. Set to take place this September, the trek was to consist of live shows in New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Canada. All of those concerts are now canceled and ticketholders should contact venues for information regarding refunds.
Back in February, his family revealed he has been battling Alzheimer’s since 2016. Despite the diagnosis, the legendary singer has retained his ability to perform and had continued to tour up until the COVID-19 pandemic. Susan, Bennett’s wife of 13 years, said her husband still recognizes family members, but he is not always sure where he is or what is happening around him. She also said that Bennett doesn’t fully grasp the illness.
However, Gayatri Devi, M.D., the neurologist who diagnosed Bennett in 2016, remains positive about his outlook and his ability to function. “He has some ‘cognitive’ issues, but multiple other areas of his brain are still resilient and functioning well,” said Dr. Devi. “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.”
Other considerations may include the rising case numbers for the Delta variant. If the “One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga” from earlier in the month were indeed to be his final Big Apple shows, it seems Bennett had decided to slowly wind down his career. Add in the increased risk of coronavirus and his own mental wellness, and the decision to pull the plug on the fall dates may have made the most sense.
Though he may be off the road, he’s not off the record. On October 1st, Bennett and his longtime pop collaborator Lady Gaga will release their new album Love for Sale. It spans 10 tracks in total and will serve as the follow-up to their 2014 record Cheek to Cheek. Revisit the lead single “I Get a Kick Out of You,” which comes with a charming performance video of them singing the duet together.