Print Shortlink

Sonny & Cher

Sonny Bono met Cherilyn Sarkasian Lapierre in the early ‘60s at an L.A. coffee shop.  He was already married at the time, but his marriage quickly dissolved as he became more and more enamoured with the artist-to-be-named-Cher.  Sonny helped jump-start her career by hooking her up with Phil Spector, who employed her alto backing vocals on The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”.  Before she would be known as Cher, however, she would be known as Cleo in the ill-fated and unfortunately named Caesar and Cleo.

The pair released a string of singles on the Reprise label, none of which did much, so they opted to change their name to Sonny & Cher.  It was under this moniker that they would crack the top ten with “Baby Don’t Go” in 1965.  (An album would later bear its name.)  Their first album, Look At Us, went to #2 on the Billboard album chart and would bear the fruit of a #1 smash, “I Got You Babe”.  Its follow-up, The Wondrous World of Sonny & Cher, reached the top forty and inspired an international tour.  In Case Your In Love, their 1967 offering, did not fare as well but spawned a couple of hits, “The Beat Goes On” and “Little Man”, which peaked at #6 and #21, respectively.

Thinking he could parlay their success into a film career, Sonny quickly slapped together a vehicle for them to star in, entitled Good Times.  It bombed.  A second film, Chastity, their daughter’s namesake, did the same.  They were also slated to appear in Speedway, but after the duo’s initial lack of success at the box office, Columbia balked on the project and MGM picked up the rights and cast Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra instead.  The couple soon found themselves $200,000 in arrears on their income tax.  To make matters worse, their albums weren’t selling any more.

Undeterred, Sonny came up with an idea for a Las Vegas stage show which would be a combination of comedy and music.  As luck would have it, a talent agent came to see one of their shows and made a mental note that it might translate well to television.  Sonny & Cher had already made some in-roads on TV, having appeared on American BandstandThe Ed Sullivan Show, and Top of the Pops.

In 1971, they made an appearance on The Merv Griffin Show and something about them inspired Fred Silverman that they could fill a void in the CBS line-up which had been left by the departure of The Smothers Brothers.  He eased them into the swing of things with The Nitty Gritty Hour, a one-off variety special, and on 1st August 1971, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour hit the airwaves as a five-episode trial run.  By January 1972, Sonny & Cher were a part of the regular CBS line-up.

Propelled by their television success, they managed to resuscitate their record sales, with a live album and a pair of top-ten singles, “A Cowboy’s Work is Never Done” and “All I Ever Need is You”.  It did not take long for things to unravel.  Sonny & Cher had unofficially separated, living in opposite ends of their mansion in Bel Air.  Eventually, Cher moved out. Sonny filed for divorce papers.  On 29th May 1974, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was done.  On 27th June 1975, so was their marriage.  Oddly enough, The Sonny & Cher Showaired in 1976, but the magic was gone.  The show was cancelled a year later.

Sonny & Cher recordings
A Beautiful Story (Sonny Bono)
Podunk (Sonny Bono)