It’s a big week for Tony Bennett. The legendary singer turns 90 on Wednesday, Aug. 3 and will celebrate with a party in the Rainbow Room at Radio City Music Hall. But becoming a nonagenarian isn’t slowing him down. In fact, Bennett is plotting to get “Cheek to Cheek” again with his good pal Lady Gaga.
“She and I are talking about doing a second album,” the singer tells Billboard. The Cheek to Cheek pop standards collection topped the Billboard 200 when it was released during September 2014 and won a Grammy Award for best traditional pop vocal album. It also spawned a successful PBS special and concert tour. “She’s busy right now, but at the beginning of next year we’ll start doing an album. The first one went way over a million, and it’s still selling.”
As for songs for the set, Bennett won’t get specific but promises that, “There’ll be just wonderful songs that she and I both like.”
Before tucking into that project, however, Bennett will be publishing a new memoir, Just Getting Started, which was co-written with NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon. Due out Nov. 15, the book focuses on Bennett’s encounters and relationships with other artists and notable figures throughout the years, ranging from Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland and Bob Hope (who, Bennett says gave him “my first break”) to Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Gaga and Amy Winehouse.
“The whole book is about different performers and just my experience about meeting them and the different things that happened and why they were so popular internationally throughout the world,” Bennett says. “They’re all people who were completely committed to doing great shows and great things, and they were all different, each of them. Each one is completely different then anyone else; They’re just themselves. I love the book, and Scott Simon is a beautiful writer, so I’m really excited.”
Turning 90, meanwhile, is giving Bennett a moment for pause and reflection on a life and 65-year career that’s included 19 Grammy Awards and being named a Kennedy Center Honoree and an NEA Jazz Master. How’d he do it? “Well, I’ve had great training,” Bennett says. “I had good teachers at the American Theatre Wing when I came out of the service after the Second World War. They told me how to survive and taught me how to take care of myself and to be myself and try not to imitate any other singers. They always insisted I just be myself, and I’ve maintained that throughout the years. I just love the fact that in an era where everything’s based on youth I can communicate with everybody — the young, the middle-aged and the old like me. I’m very content.”
Besides the Radio City party, the Empire State Building in New York City is planning a light show at 8:45 p.m. EST on Wednesday, with Bennett`s music accompanying the spectacle.
Bennett also has every intention of staying active for more birthdays. “Well, I have to pace myself; I’m 90, but I’m in top shape,” says Bennett, who works out with a trainer three times a week and credits his wife, Susan, as well as sons/managers Danny and Dae Bennett, with taking good care of him. “I’ve just had a long time to stay with quality, and I believe the public deserves that. As long as they’re nice enough to come and see me, I’m going to try to give them the best, intelligent songs I fell in love with.”