The Magical Thing Alzheimer's Isn't Taking From Tony Bennett

Family reveals '16 diagnosis is increasingly stealing singer's moments of clarity, but not that voice
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2021 8:40 AM CST
Tony Bennett Has Alzheimer’s
Tony Bennett performs in New York in 2019.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Alzheimer's disease is evermore robbing Tony Bennett of moments of mental clarity since his diagnosis in 2016, but his wife and son tell the latest edition of AARP the Magazine that the legendary crooner of yore doesn't miss a beat when he's with his music. "He's not the old Tony anymore," his wife, Susan, told the magazine, per the AP. "But when he sings, he's the old Tony." The singer rehearses twice a week with longtime pianist Lee Musiker for 90-minute sets; AARP sat in on one and described it thusly:

  • "Yet immediately, incredibly, he opened his mouth and out rolled a stream of rich, resonant notes, swelling up and outward from the lower part of his range, the melancholy tone perfectly matched to the lyric, which he produced with his famously clear articulation. ... The song built in intensity as the lyrics and aching melody mounted into his high register, a full three octaves from where he started, increasing in volume and power until he was filling the room with a crescendoing cry: "It's got to happen, happen sometime—maybe this time, I'll winnnnnnn!"

Click for much more from the moving AARP piece.

(Read more Tony Bennett stories.)

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