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Lady Gaga once said she was going to quit music, but Tony Bennett "saved" her life

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in 2021
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in 2021 | 60 Minutes 02:01

When Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga released their first album together in 2014, some may have found them an unlikely pair. But the singers had gotten close and continued to create music as a duo, with Gaga even crediting Bennett, who died on Friday at age 96, with "saving" her. 

"Six months ago I didn't even want to sing anymore," Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, told Parade Magazine in 2014 during an interview with Bennett as they promoted their album "Cheek to Cheek." 

"Do you know what Duke Ellington said? He said, 'Number one, don't quit. Number two, listen to number one,'" Bennett quipped.

"Right! The other day, Tony said, 'I've ­never once in my career not wanted to do this.' It stung. Six months ago I didn't feel that way. I tell Tony every day that he saved my life," Gaga replied.

It appears the pressure of the music industry had gotten to Gaga, who released her album "Art Pop" the previous year. 

"I'm not going to say any names, but people get irrational when it comes to ­money—with how they treat you, with what they expect from you," she told Parade. "But if you help an artist, it doesn't give you the right, once the artist is big, to take advantage of them." 

"I was so sad. I couldn't sleep. I felt dead," she said. "And then I spent a lot of time with Tony. He wanted nothing but my friendship and my voice."

Bennett held Gaga's hand and replied: "I understand."

"It meant a lot to me, Tony. I don't have many people I can relate to," she said.

 Lady Gaga performs with Tony Bennett during her residency at Park Theater at Park MGM on January 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Park MGM Las Vegas

While many call the pop superstar "Gaga," Bennett referred to her as "Lady." After "Cheek to Cheek," the pair recorded a second album, "Love for Sale," released in 2021. Gaga also honored Bennett at the Grammy's in 2022, singing the tracks "Love for Sale" and "Do I Love You" solo, because Bennett had retired after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at 94. 

"Love for Sale" was the last project Bennett released. In 2021, he and Gaga put on a sold-out performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and broadcast on CBS. 

Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's by then, but when he sang, he came alive, his accompanist Lee Musiker and Gaga both said in an interview with Anderson Cooper for "60 Minutes."

"When that music comes on (SNAP), it's-- something happens to him," Gaga said. "He knows exactly what he's doing. And what's important for me, actually, just to make sure that I don't get in the way of that." 

The Radio City show was his final concert. 

Just last week, Bennett shared a video on Instagram of himself and Gaga performing "Night and Day."

Bennett died in New York City at the age of 96 on Friday. Over his decades-long career, Bennett recorded 60 studio albums, plus dozens of live albums and compilations. Seven of his albums hit the Top 10 on the Billboard charts. 

He won 19 Grammy Awards. One of them was with Gaga for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for "Cheek to Cheek."

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