By Gary: “They were two of the strangest people to ever appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, but years later they would have their own TV show. Sonny was considered part of the Wrecking Crew and had was extremely talented but then there was Cher with the ‘Voice’ and looks.
- Sonny Bono (born Salvatore Phillip Bono, February 16, 1935, in Detroit, MI; died January 5, 1998, in South Lake Tahoe, CA): vocals
- Cher (born Cherilyn LaPierre Sarkasian, May 20, 1946, in El Centro, CA): vocals
Contributions to music:
- The most popular male-female rock duo of the Sixties and early Seventies
- Sonny was a major songwriter who penned several hits for other artists
- Cher possessed one of the greatest and most unusual singing voices of her time, and was one of rock’s first and greatest divas
- Their romantic image helped to make the “hippie” lifestyle more appealing and acceptable to Middle America
- Ruled TV in the early Seventies with their “Variety Hour”
- Cher went on to become a respected actress, while Sonny became one of the first rock stars to enter politics
Salvatore “Sonny” Bono had already developed dreams of being an entertainer before his family moved to Los Angeles while he was still in grade school. Now in his element, Bono began writing songs while working odd jobs, and after years of failure, Specialty Records picked him up, first as a songwriter and later as an A&R man.
By 1963, he was working as a “gofer” for Phil Spector at his legendary Gold Star Studios, and had already scored a hit on his own with the Searchers’ “Needles And Pins.” It was at the coffee shop next door that he met an aspiring 16-year-old singer named Cherilyn Sarkasian.
Eventually, the two fell in love, and embarked upon a singing career, at first calling themselves Caesar and Cleo. After two failed stints at other labels, Atlantic finally signed them, and their combined talent started to pay dividends with songs like “Baby Don’t Go” and their signature tune, “I Got You Babe.”
By 1967 the hits — both as a duo and from Cher’s separate solo career — had dried up. But the two kept plugging away, developing a supper-club act that CBS President Fred Silverman turned into a hit variety show. By 1974 the two were separated, but the show, somehow, kept going.
In the mid-’70s, the marriage and act finally split up. Bono went on to do TV work in his lovable-loser persona, while Cher, after a disastrous affair with Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers, turned to serious movie acting, eventually winning a Best Actress Oscar for 1987’s Moonstruck.
In the Eighties, Cher recorded several hair-metal hits, while Sonny became a successful L.A. restaurateur, and, later, mayor of his native Palm Springs, CA. He eventually became a Congressman, and was starting to become a political name when he died in a 1998 skiing accident. Cher, now a cultural icon, continues to tour and record.
- Sonny wrote Larry Williams’ “She Said Yeah” and the Searchers’ “Needles And Pins“
- As Bonnie Jo Mason, Cher had scored a minor hit in 1964 with “Ringo, I Love You,” a novelty song dedicated to the Beatles’ drummer
- Cher sings backup on several early Spector productions, including the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling“
- Had one child, a daughter named Chastity who often appeared in Cher’s arms at the end of their variety show
- Egged on by David Letterman, the two performed “I Got You Babe” in a tearful one-off reunion on his late-night show