Friday, September 09, 2011



Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett recently sat down with AARP at his art studio overlooking Central Park in New York to talk about his recording with Lady Gaga, the late Amy Winehouse, which would turn out to be her last, the tragic mix of drugs and art, and his involvement with AARP Foundation's Drive to End Hunger.

Bennett’s Duets II will be released Sept. 20. On Saturday, September 24, Bennett will perform his greatest hits with some of today’s biggest stars in celebration of his 85th birthday at the Staples Center Staples Center in Los Angele to benefit AARP's Drive to End Hunger.

On his desire to share his own experiences with Amy Winehouse:

“I wanted to tell Amy, I wanted to talk to her and her dad about what happened to me, and how I stopped and how it helped. Everybody loved her so much. Her fans really loved her. They were all rooting for her. And she was such a sweet child. And it was so tragic that she died so young.”

On Lady Gaga:

“I think if she keeps going the way she's going now, that she will become bigger than Elvis Presley. She will become the main rage of the entertainment world. I've never met anybody, I don't care what age, who is more intelligent about what to do as a performer than Lady Gaga.”

“She did ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’ with me. It was so fantastic. She showed up in the most gorgeous dress I've ever seen. On Elizabeth Taylor or Marilyn Monroe — the most beautiful dress I've ever seen on a human being! And she had a wild green wig on. But when she went into it, ‘Bam!’ The song just took off. So she's absolutely brilliant with what she does. She's a very, very magnificent performer and she does know how to sing, and she does know how to play the piano. I see great things for her. She has no boundaries and she knows what she's doing. You know, I've performed with everybody, being 85 years old. I've seen it all. And I'll tell you, I've never seen anybody that intelligent when it comes to knowing how to perform properly.”

On how his singing and painting interrelate:

“My father died when I was 9 and I couldn't believe it as a young boy. All my aunts and uncles and nephews and nieces, they would come over every Sunday and make a circle around my brother, my sister and myself. And then they saw the way I painted. They said, ‘Look at his painting. He paints these beautiful flowers.’ So it gave me a passion, not realizing as of today, that my passion is even stronger than it was then. But my whole life has been about painting and singing. Music and art. Truth and beauty. Those are the things that I work on. That's all I know, and I keep studying it.”

On his retirement plans:

“When somebody says, ‘Are you going to retire?’ I say, ‘Retire to what?’ Because I'm not going to stop learning. There's so much to learn! And I've had a beautiful life thinking that way.”

Photo By: RD/Dziekan/Retna

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