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Jazz Legend and Frequent SPAC Guest Tony Bennett Has Alzheimer’s Disease, Family Reveals

The news was revealed by the crooner's family in a new 'AARP' magazine feature and subsequent CBS interview.

Tony Bennett, seen here performing in 2003, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2016. (Tom Beetz/Flickr)

Locals: Today would be a great day to make a donation to your favorite Alzheimer’s charity. One of the living legends of jazz, Tony Bennett, who has appeared at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) more than 10 times since 1969, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, according to his family, who spoke candidly to AARP magazine for a new feature and in a subsequent interview with CBS’ Gayle King.

The 94-year-old crooner, who first appeared at SPAC in August of 1969, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back in 2016, and though he has not been dealing with the disorientation or fits of anger, confusion or depression oftentimes associated with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Bennett has dealt with short-term memory loss and other symptoms of the degenerative brain disease. “Although he can still recognize family members, he is, according to [his wife] Susan, not always sure where he is or what is happening around him,” writes AARP‘s John Colapinto.

Despite his courageous battle, Bennett has continued to sing, record and perform, and he’ll be releasing a follow-up to 2014’s No. 1 album, Cheek to Cheek, which he recorded with Lady Gaga, at some point this year.

Bennett, whose last appearance at SPAC was in 2013, as one of the headliners at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, has been performing and releasing albums since the early ’50s. (He has some 60 studios albums and 11 live albums to his name.) Oscar- and Grammy-winning producer (and Saratogian) Joel Moss, worked on a string of Bennett’s albums—Here’s to the Ladies (1995), Tony Bennett: The Playground (1998) and Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool (1999)—as well as Playin’ with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues (2001), for which he and Bennett won a Grammy award (it was one of Moss’ seven and Bennett’s 18 Grammys, respectively).

Prior to the forthcoming duet album with Lady Gaga, Bennett last released a studio album with Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall in 2018.

Will Levith

Will Levith is Editorial Director at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others. He lives in Troy with his wife, Laura, and dog, Esopus.

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