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The Other Bono: Remembering Sonny (and the Pre-Crazy Cher)

Cher's zillionth album comes out this week. Spare a thought for her underrated Republican soulmate, Sonny Bono.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

September 21, 2013 - 3:00 pm
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Cher’s new album drops in a few days.

There was a time when I’d have been very excited about that.

Believe it or not, back in the 1990s and the years that preceded them, Cher was different: apolitical, effortlessly hilarious, and humble.

I saw her in concert back then and her audience was the most diverse I’ve ever seen: all ages, races, and sexual orientations, gathered to celebrate the unsinkable survivor with the single name, who’d had hits in every decade since the 1960s and won deserved acclaim for her acting.

That was before Cher contracted Bush Derangement Syndrome and never found a cure.

It was also — I realize just now — before Sonny Bono died, in 1998.

Her unforgettable eulogy at Sonny’s funeral, and her exquisite televised special remembering their lives together, were Cher’s last great public moments before she descended into crazy-homeless-lady bitterness.

They’d been apart for years by then, but had Sonny served as Cher’s ballast all along?

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Top Rated Comments   
Sonny had the brains. He understood the appeal (not to me, to millions of females) of the husband as target of the wife's non-stop putdowns). So he gave Cher all the put down lines and was happy to be the pin cushion who laughed all the way to the bank. In other words the Sonny & Cher chemistry was his invention.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember seeing an interview with Cher on television in which she all but called Bono a Nazi...because he was a Republican.

A few weeks later, Bono died...and Cher, sensing a great PR opportunity, let fly with the crocodile tears at his funeral and got plenty of great publicity.

On top of being a thoroughly despicable, hateful old hag, she sucks as a singer and "artist" and always did.

Who care who kept Cher "moored?"
It's not like she's a timeless icon who influenced everyone who came after her...like the Beatles or something.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
If memory serves me correctly it was all about Chastitiy/Chaz. Once Chastity started declaring her alternate sexuality Cher became a dutiful rainbow PFLAG parent and let the gays use her for their politics. From then on she was a leftoid sock puppet.

Much worse, she let herself become a gay icon. Can you imagine any "diversity" at her concerts nowadays? Just the gays and the tweeny girls. It's the "Derb Effect" John Derbyshire noted that gays behave themselves until they reach a certain proportion, then they turn vicious and obnoxious and drive everyone else away.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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She did an impressive job of leveraging herself from being a groupie to being a star.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Blonde hair and blue eyes defined beauty. Although she was not Latina, Cher showed there were pretty girls from the brown side of town too.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, back in the 60s women like Audrey Hepburn, Raquel Welch, Sophia Lauren, Claudia Cardinale, Gina Lollobrigida, Diahann Carroll, Diana Ross, Grace Slick, Melanie Safka, Emmylou Harris, and Jaqueline Kennedy weren't popular at all because they had brown hair and brown eyes.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Beautiful post Kathy. Though you didn't mention Needles and Pins, which Sonny co-wrote. A favorite. And thanks for mentioning Laugh At Me, and Revolution Kind. Had never heard them. After one listen each, I prefer Laugh At Me. Very big and dramatic, like his mentor Phil Spector. And I think you're right about Cher. Off the deep end. But I thought it was great when she called David Letterman an a**hole on his own show. And always thought it kind of funny Sonny went into local politics as a Republican, because the city wouldn't let him put up the sign he wanted for his restaurant. If only business experience had converted George McGovern.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
The longer Cher sings, the more she sounds like Ethel Merman. She's at the point now where she just throws back her head and bellows.

Sonny "wasn’t good looking and he could barely sing or play an instrument"? I think he had a certain rugged good looks -- BEFORE the nose job.

As for singing, you can't tell his voice from Cher's on "I Got You Babe"! How then is he a bad singer?

The important fact is, he wrote:
"I Got You Babe"
"A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done"
"You Better Sit Down Kids
"The Beat Goes On"
"Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)"
"But You're Mine"
"Laugh At Me"

He made their act. He wrote beautiful songs. Who cares if his nose was big?

29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Damn, give Ethel a break.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed. If there had been no Cher, we'd have heard of Sony. Maybe only as a songwriter, but he'd have made his mark.

If there had been no Sony, we'd likely never have heard of Cher.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
> Then, almost overnight, the ride was over. The public soured on their kitschy hippie schtick.

Well, no just the opposite. The "schtick" was decidedly non-hippie, but was instead over-commercialized pop schtick.

Sonny and Cher came in more as latter day beatniks, or (as you later suggest) "proto-hippies". And they soon dropped that for a more traditional commercial pop image, which did not follow the direction the music industry (which followed the "hippies") was going in.

In 1965, when Sonny & Cher released their great "Look At Us" album, folk rock was king. The Byrds put out their "Mr Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" albums, and the Beatles released their "Help" and "Rubber Soul" folk rock albums.

Phil Specter saw Bob Dylan singing with Joan Baez and saw Sonny & Cher as a comic version of that folk duo. Thus, the "Look At Us" album fit perfectly with the early hippie Folk-Rock of 1965.

But what happened in 1966 and 1967? The hippie movement (an thus the rock music industry) turned away from folk rock to psychedelia,with the Byrds releasing "Fifth Dimension" and "Younger Than Yesterday" and the Beatles releasing "Revolver," "Sgt. Pepper," and "Magical Mystery Tour" albums.

But what did Sonny & Cher release in 1966 and 1967? Their second album, "Wondrous World of Sonny & Cher" was mostly pop covers and otherwise very forgettable tracks. And 1967's "In Case You're In Love" was similar. "The Beat Goes On" remains one of my favorite songs from the 1960s, but the album itself is such watered down pop music, it was the opposite of "cool" and simply could not compete with the new musical directions other groups were taking.

I remember being thrilled by S & C's "Look At Us" album, and how let down I felt when they released subsequent albums. "Look At Us" presented Sonny & Cher as young and "outsiders"... i.e. beatniks, hippies, rebels. The later releases appealed to an older, mainstream adult audience. As a teenager at the time, I could no longer relate to Sonny & Cher.

Their later Las Vegas act and prime time TV variety shows further solidified that image. Cher went on to sell a lot of shallow pop albums. But nothing they did afterward ever came close to that exciting first album and the time when they had "5 hits on the Top 20."
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sonny had the brains. He understood the appeal (not to me, to millions of females) of the husband as target of the wife's non-stop putdowns). So he gave Cher all the put down lines and was happy to be the pin cushion who laughed all the way to the bank. In other words the Sonny & Cher chemistry was his invention.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember seeing an interview with Cher on television in which she all but called Bono a Nazi...because he was a Republican.

A few weeks later, Bono died...and Cher, sensing a great PR opportunity, let fly with the crocodile tears at his funeral and got plenty of great publicity.

On top of being a thoroughly despicable, hateful old hag, she sucks as a singer and "artist" and always did.

Who care who kept Cher "moored?"
It's not like she's a timeless icon who influenced everyone who came after her...like the Beatles or something.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
She is a timeless icon to drag queens.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, you hit that nail on the head! But you have to keep in mind who wrote the article, the person who also repects the pedophile Pete Townshend.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Please -- if all you have to offer to the discussion is "who cares", just refrain from posting. When you do that, all you're doing is publicly patting yourself on the back for being superior to everyone else who does care enough to post, because evidently in real life no one else will do it for you.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, it could be that Sonny was unfaithful but whose word do you have for it? Cher, the crazy version. Do women lie about things like this? You bet.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
You need to read some celeb history. At one point, they shared the same house, divided down the middle, and each of them were living with or married to (don't remember the details) to someone else. I must believe that in order to reach that point in a marriage, there must have been some infidelity going on.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
On a recent visit to Palm Springs, it was good to see that Sonny is still fondly remembered for his public service.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
I lived on the other side of the mountain from there, when Sony was mayor. I don't know if it made national news, but you should have heard the howls when he banned thongs from public! How they did scream! :D

Seems the thongs were causing multiple car accidents during spring break, as dudes on motorcycles would cruise downtown with a hot (?) chick on the back wearing a thong bikini. Mayhem ensued in the slow but crowded cruising scene.

He'd also patrol on his own Harley, riding around and keeping people in line. Up on sidewalks, if he had to.

Not really a solid conservative, but an interesting guy, anyway.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Cher’s last great public moments before she descended into crazy-homeless-lady bitterness."

It's really due to taking yourself far too seriously. OK, so you had some hit songs. You can sing and play an instrument. That makes you...what, precisely?

She simply bought into the "I am famous, thus I must be listened to" routine. An all-too common issue of the human condition.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really, if someone *asks* what you think about something, some people think it's only polite to answer. I wonder how many Barbra's and Sean's and Cher's call up reporters to declaim their stupidity, and how many of them are tripped by TMZ leaving a restaurant and forced to respond to startling questions out of misguided politeness.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
If memory serves me correctly it was all about Chastitiy/Chaz. Once Chastity started declaring her alternate sexuality Cher became a dutiful rainbow PFLAG parent and let the gays use her for their politics. From then on she was a leftoid sock puppet.

Much worse, she let herself become a gay icon. Can you imagine any "diversity" at her concerts nowadays? Just the gays and the tweeny girls. It's the "Derb Effect" John Derbyshire noted that gays behave themselves until they reach a certain proportion, then they turn vicious and obnoxious and drive everyone else away.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not sure the tweeny girls have any idea who Cher is. She's, like, old enough to be their grandmother.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
"From then on she was a leftoid sock puppet."

No, she was just vocal on that subject. She's been hard left as long as I can remember. She's an unregenerate '60s hippy, plain and simple.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
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