Tony Bennett and Elton John helped lift Lady Gaga's spirits as she struggled with the disappointing release of her album Artpop.
The pop superstar initially scored a chart hit with her third studio project, but it received mixed reviews and suffered a large drop in sales after its first week of release, prompting some critics to deem the album a failure.
Gaga hit back at the criticism, insisting detractors simply failed to understand the concept of Artpop, and now she reveals her close pals Tony and Elton were among the only industry friends who offered her their support and encouragement.
"There is nobody more bada** than Tony Bennett," she tells Billboard magazine. "That man is a part of the history of music in a way that is extremely powerful, and he taught me to stay true to who I am, to not let anybody exploit me.
"He is responsible in so many ways for making me happy, and I can say the same for Elton. When the whole industry turned their back on me during Artpop, they were the ones who said, 'Hey, this is a blip. It's going to go away'."
Gaga bounced back from the career setback by recording the Grammy Award-winning Cheek To Cheek album with Tony Bennett, and she reveals her fans frequently thank her for introducing them to the veteran crooner.
"On tour, I had people give me war medals and memorabilia just to thank me for exposing a younger generation to Tony Bennett because he changed their lives in such significant ways," she explains.
"I am an Italian-American girl from New York who won state jazz competitions in high school for my abilities. I was born to sing with Tony and for him to be like, 'Yes, you were'. And so was Ella (Fitzgerald) and so was Judy (Garland) - we could go on and on listing the amazing women he sang with. It's a party I'm thrilled to be invited to."
The star, who has been named Billboard's 2015 Woman of the Year, also insists she has no regrets about her road to fame: "Every up and down of my career was worth it - it has led me to epiphanies. We can't create without epiphanies."