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Cher

Cher has had three careers that place her indelibly in the public consciousness, and two have been in association with her then- husband,composer/producer/singer Salvatore "Sonny" Bono (February 16, 1935-January 8, 1998). She charted major hit records in the 1960s and1970s, working in idioms ranging from early-'60s girl group-style ballads to Jackie Deshannon folk-influenced pop, to adult contemporary popin the manner of later Dusty Springfield. She also embarked on an acting career,initially in the late 1960s in association with her work as partof Sonny & Cher but later on her own, whi ...read more

Cher has had three careers that place her indelibly in the public consciousness, and two have been in association with her then- husband,composer/producer/singer Salvatore "Sonny" Bono (February 16, 1935-January 8, 1998). She charted major hit records in the 1960s and1970s, working in idioms ranging from early-'60s girl group-style ballads to Jackie Deshannon folk-influenced pop, to adult contemporary popin the manner of later Dusty Springfield. She also embarked on an acting career,initially in the late 1960s in association with her work as partof Sonny & Cher but later on her own, which led to a series of increasingly polished and compelling performances in Silkwood, Mask andMoonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Cherilyn Sarkisian was born in California in 1946; she was 17 when she first met Salvatore "Sonny" Bono, a songwriter and protégé ofproducer Phil Spector. Sonny brought her to Spector, who used her as a backup singer and produced one single by her, a novelty Beatlestribute record called "Ringo I Love You" issued under the name Bonnie Jo Mason. It disappeared without a trace, but the couple wereundaunted -- they emerged as a duo, initially called Caesar & Cleo, later that year, and cut"The Letter," "Do You Wanna Dance" and "Love IsStrange."Caesar & Cleo didn't trouble the chart compilers with any degree of success, but late in 1964, Cher (then known as Cherilyn) wassigned to Liberty Records' Imperial imprint, and Sonny came along as producer. A Spector-ish version of "Dream Baby" managed to getairplay in Los Angeles, becoming a local hit, and they suspected they were onto something. That same month, Sonny & Cher, as they werenow known, signed to Reprise Records and released their first single, "Baby Don't Go."The song became a major local hit in Los Angeles, afterwhich the duo jumped from Reprise to the Atco label, a division of Atlantic Records. In April 1965 their first single, "Just You" was releasedand rose to number 20 on the charts. The duo was on its way, and Cher also had Imperial Records after her for a second single. The couplehad seen the Byrds pioneer commercial folk-rock with Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," and had witnessed them performing another Dylannumber, "All I Really Want to Do" at a club in Los Angeles. The group intended to issue their own recording of "All I Really Want to Do," butCher, with Sonny producing, beat them to the punch with her own recording of the song.She pursued a dual career for the next two years,cutting solo recordings under Sonny's guidance that regularly charted, and duets with her husband for Atco. A month after "All I Really Wantto Do," they released "I Got You Babe," which was one of the biggest-selling and most beloved pop/rock hits of the mid-'60s, and the couple'ssignature tune across two eras of success. Cher's solo career ended up slightly overshadowed by her work with Sonny & Cher, but at the timeshe was fully competitive on her own terms -- her first LP reached the Billboard Top 20 and was on the albums charts for six months. "BangBang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" was another hit, a million-seller that made number three in America and England, and she made the Top Tenonce more with her 1967 single "You Better Sit Down Kids." The latter song, written by Sonny (and which was also a hit for Glen Campbell),dealt with divorce, an unusual subject for a 1960s pop record, and was one of a series of releases on which Cher's music broached difficultareas -- others were "I Feel Something's in the Air," which dealt with unwanted pregnancy, and "Mama (When My Dollies HaveBabies.)"Cher's solo career at Imperial, which had created some political problems for the couple at Atlantic, ended with the lapsing of hercontract in 1967, and she moved to Atlantic. Ironically, it was this move that contributed the unhappy reversal of thecouple's fortunes at theend of the decade.By the end of the 1960s, Sonny & Cher were no longer selling records. A series of commercial missteps, coupled with achange in public taste, had sharply curtailed their sales, and a pair of movies (Good Times, Chastity) had lost millions.Additionally, they wereno longer recording for Atlantic -- though they were still under contract to them -- owing to thelabel's decision to take Cher's solo recordingsout of Sonny's hands and assign a new producer to her.Coupled with the presentation of a bill from the Internal Revenue Service for$200,000 in back taxes, these events left the couple in dire financial straights at the end of the 1960s. They were forced to play club dates,opening for artists like Pat Boone, and it was there that their second career, and a second career for Cher, took shape. A new contract withDecca Records in 1971, coupled with a chance at a summer replacement gig on the CBS television network, brought them a second chance atsuccess.The try-out on television was a success, as the couple proved to be as funny as they were musically diverse. It took a littlelonger tofind a new formula for Cher's music -- her initial single on Decca's Kapp label, "Classified 1A," was a failure; a serious song dealing with agirl's feelings for a boyfriend killed in Vietnam; it was topical in all the wrong ways to become a pop chart success. Producer Snuff Garrett wasrecruited to work with her, and he found a series of songs that were perfect for Cher's maturing talent."Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," aconscious attempt to emulate Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man" (which also recalled Cher's own "Bang Bang") was released late in 1971and became a number one hit and a million-seller. To some listeners,"Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" was the epitome of schlocky pop/rock,but the song's subject matter, unusual tempo changes,and an incredibly memorable chorus-hook became a vehicle for a transcendentperformance by the singer, marking Cher's maturation as an artist (the B-side, "I Hate to Sleep Alone," written by Peggy Clinger of theClinger Sisters, curiously enough,managed to recall Sonny's Spector-influenced productions from the Imperial years). A follow-up album,featuring her covers of contemporary hits such as "Fire and Rain," sold well also, and her next single, "The Way of Love," a revival of a mid-'60sKathy Kirby hit, solidified the image of a new, more confident and powerful Cher. And the debut of the couple's regular network varietyseries on CBS in January 1972 brought them back to the center of American and international popular culture in a more mature, wittier guise,and one that concentrated much more on Cher as a personality.Her 1960s music ran the gamut from Spector-style miniature teen- popsymphonies to covers of contemporary adult pop ("It's Not Unusual") and folk-rock. Her voice wasn't very rich or powerful, but it wasexpressive and surrounded by Sonny's radiant Spector creations, and she could put over an almost inappropriately cheerful sounding versionof "The Bells of Rhymney" or"Blowin' in the Wind." By contrast, her early- 1970s material, solo or with Sonny, had a more adult point of viewand personality. "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" and the later number one solo hits "Half-Breed" and "Dark Lady" were dramatic,highlyintense performances, almost as much "acted" as sung, and very different from her 1960s output.In 1974, it was revealed that the couple'smarriage was coming to an end. Ironically, Cher came out of this split more secure than her husband, despite his having guided her career fora decade and having all of the real training in the entertainment business. She embarked on an acting career, even as she continued to makeheadlines for her romantic exploits, including anaffair with (and two marriages to) Gregg Allman. She became a far better actress than shewas a singer, first revealed in MikeNichols' Silkwood (1983) and then in Peter Bogdanovich's Mask (1985) and George Miller's The Witches ofEastwick (1987). Her acting peers caught on to the worth of her work in time for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance inNorman Jewison's 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck.Since the mid-'70s, Cher has been known more for her acting than for her music,although she has continued to record fornumerous labels, including Columbia, and in 1998 scored an international chart- topping smash withthe club-friendly single"Believe." She is, by Garrett's analysis, more of a stylist than a singer, and almost as much a personality as anactress,almost a modern-day Helen Morgan (Showboat, etc.) with better luck in life and career. « hide

Similar Bands: Tina Turner, Bonnie Tyler, Sonny and Cher, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand

LPs
Dancing Queen
2018

2
9 Votes
Closer to the Truth
09/20/2013

3
13 Votes
Living Proof
2002

3.3
11 Votes
Not.Com.Mercial
2000

2
4 Votes
Believe
1998

3.5
31 Votes
It's a Man's World
1995

2.9
6 Votes
Love Hurts
1991

3.3
2 Votes
Mermaids
1990

Heart of Stone
1989

4.2
11 Votes
Cher
1987

3.3
4 Votes
I Paralyze
1982

4
1 Votes
Black Rose
1980

3
1 Votes
Prisoner
1979

Take Me Home
1979

2.8
11 Votes
Two the Hard Way
1977

1
1 Votes
Cherished
1977

I'd Rather Believe in You
1976

Stars
1975

Dark Lady
1974

Half Breed
1973

3
1 Votes
Bittersweet White Light
1973

Foxy Lady
1972

Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves
1971

4.4
4 Votes
Chastity
1969

3614 Jackson Highway
1969

Backstage
1968

With Love, Chér
1967

2.5
1 Votes
Chér
1966

The Sonny Side of Chér
1966

5
1 Votes
All I Really Want to Do
1965

3.6
6 Votes
Live Albums
Live! The Farewell Tour
2003

Compilations
Gold
2005

3
9 Votes
The Very Best of Cher
2003

The Greatest Hits
1999

If I Could Turn Back Time: Cher's Greatest Hits
1999

4
2 Votes
Greatest Hits: 1965–1992
1992

Greatest Hits
1974

Superpack, Vol. 2
1972

Superpack, Vol. 1
1972

Cher's Golden Greats
1968

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