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Sonny and Cher

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Sonny and Cher


Salvatore "Sonny" Bono and Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPiere (or "Cher" as she was later nicknamed) were both making music on their own, predating their partnership as "Sonny and Cher," the singing, bickering, entertaining duo that became a household name in the 1960s and '70s. During the '50s Sonny was a song scribe for Specialty Records before working as an apprentice for Phil Spector. He wrote such hits as "She Said Yeah" (which was later covered by the Rolling Stones) and "Needles and Pins," a hit he cowrote with Jack Nitzsche. Cher was one of the hip, young Sunset Strip scenesters trying to make it. After meeting Sonny, she was presented to Spector who commissioned her as a backup singer before producing a recording under the Bonnie Jo Mason moniker that was a sort of novel tribute to Beatlemania entitled, "Ringo I Love You." Following that, Sonny and Cher got married and released a few quasi-success ful recordings for Reprise under the name of Caesar & Cleo. But it wasn't until they inked a deal with Atlantic Records that they would adopt the name Sonny and Cher, landing a hit with the playfully catchy "Baby Don't Go" and then "Just You," which landed at No. 20 on the Billboard charts in 1965. After experiencing an inspiring live set by the Byrds, Cher cut a solo version of Bob Dylan's "All I Really Want To Do," which also charted reasonably well before the duo struck solid gold with "I Got You Babe," followed up with the widely popular "The Beat Goes On." Like many Los Angelinos before and after their time, Sonny and Cher did what any aspiring musician does upon the first taste of success—they shamelessly sold out. Two cheesy movies were quickly scripted and produced under the titles of Good Times and Chastity, respectively. As the movies predictably bombed, the duo found themselves without any hits, but amongst that hardship and increasing marital strife, they continued to work hard in Vegas well into the early '70s, performing at supper clubs as a singing duo with a delightfully funny stage act where Cher would make a lot of spousal jokes at Sonny's expense. The crowds ate it up, as did Fred Silverman who gave them their own variety television show on CBS in 1972. The sultry "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," kissed new life into their recording career and then Cher struck gold as a solo artist with the hit "Half Breed," an ironically funny song about a sexy squaw. Unfortunately they lost their television show in 1974 due to bad ratings and a change in the music and radio climate was veering away from pop and more towards rock and roll. Their marriage soon dissolved after that and Sonny went on to eventually become the Mayor of Palm Springs while Cher continued to land some high profile acting roles while dating various longhaired rockers including Gene Simmons of Kiss and Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers who she actually married and then divorced and then married and then divorced again. Sonny died in a bizarre skiing accident that decapitated him in 1998.
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