Sonny & Cher

 

 
 
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Sonny & Cher

Formed 1964, in Los Angeles, CA


Sonny and Cher began as the Ozzie and Harriet of the Flower Power set, invariably garbed in mod rags throughout the 1960s. But their minutes of fame never fully ran out, even when they became so annoying listeners practically ran them off the pop charts. At that point, naturally, they gravitated to their inevitable destination: Las Vegas, which led to high-profile television variety-show appearances and the production of monstrosities called The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and The Sonny and Cher Show.

They met while working for producer Phil Spector. She was a 19-year-old backup singer; he was a glorified gofer with a variety of dubious accomplishments. They recorded a couple of singles under the name Caesar and Cleo but only started to click when, as Sonny and Cher, they scored a modest regional hit with "Baby Don't Go." After a switch to Atco Records and the #1 hit "I Got You Babe," they began a bubblegum career that favored style well over substance.

Bono cut Spectorian duo records for one label and even tossed off one immortal protest record of his own, Laugh at Me, after being asked to leave a restaurant because he wasn't wearing a tie. Cher did solo records for Liberty (notably Bang Bang).

Their decline from Top 40 popularity may have been inevitable, but their '70s resurrection as a kind of Louis Prima-Keely Smith comedic pop vocal team could hardly have been predicted. With a top-rated weekly TV program and a series of hit records produced by the sage veteran Snuff Garrett (Bobby Vee, Gary Lewis and the Playboys), Sonny and Cher were back entertaining the parents of the people who only a few years before were buying their records.

In the wake of their divorce, personal and professional, Cher established herself as one of Hollywood's leading ladies. Music dropped to little more than a sideline for her; in fact, her albums became more noteworthy for fleshy covers (which is perhaps what attracted Beavis and Butt-head, the vulgar TV cartoons, to arrange for a Cher cameo) than the music inside.

Bono, meanwhile, opened a restaurant and entered politics in sleepy Palm Springs, which he represented as a Republican congressman before dying in a freak ski accident in early 1998.

Bono's funeral service, attended by Cher, Tony Orlando, U.S. senator Newt Gingrich, and other luminaries, recalled the fun, sincerity, and self-deprecating sense of humor that characterized the singer-congressman's rich life. Said Cher in a eulogy: "He was smart enough to turn an introverted 16-year-old girl and a scrawny Italian guy with a bad voice into the most beloved television couple of this generation."

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