Thursday, July 12, 2012


When people hear the name Cher, the first thing that immediately comes to mind is the big, outspoken personality with the outrageous stage costumes that only a drag queen could truly love. Unfortunately, that tends to overshadow all of her amazing accomplishments as an humanitarian, actress and singer. While her singing may be an acquired taste for some, Cher knows how to use that deep, husky voice to create some unique and magical moments in music for the last sixty years. What I truly admire about her is that whenever she seemed completely down and out, Cher has always been able to rise back to the top in an unbelievably spectacular fashion. She has done this multiple times and while that takes a certain amount of luck but also great talent that isn't always appreciated.

She was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, CA. in 1946. Her parents divorced when she was a child and her mother, Georgia Holt remarried Gilbert LaPiere who adopted Cherilyn. When she was sixteen, Cherilyn met Salvatore Bono, who went by the name of "Sonny". Although he was eleven years older, the two became friends and eventually lovers before the couple married in 1964. Sonny worked as an assistant for record producer, Phil Spector and he dreamed of becoming a recording artist himself but he also saw the potential in the shy teenager. The couple sang background on several of Spector's hit songs and soon set out to get their own record deal.

They signed with Reprise Records under the name "Caesar & Cleo" and recorded several singles. After many failed to get any radio play, their first taste of success came with a song that Sonny wrote and produced, "Baby, Don't Go" in 1964 but under the new name, "Sonny & Cher". This single was a local hit in Los Angeles but their true breakthrough came with another Bono composition, "I Got You Babe" the following year. This song became a number one smash and soon they became a top act around the world. The duo would have six top-ten U.S. pop hits and also made appearances on all of the major television variety programs of the day. Cher released solo material as well with the hits, "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) and the the theme song from the film, "Alfie", both in 1966. In 1967, Bono got them a film, "Good Times" which co-starred George Sanders. The movie was a flop and it's only remembered today as the directorial debut of William Friedkin who would have better much luck with the films, "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist".

By 1968, their recording career had cooled off, so Bono took them to Las Vegas where they created an act that portrayed Cher as a wise-cracking wife and he happily took being the butt of her jokes. They became one of the hottest shows on the strip which lead to a television special, "The Nitty Gritty Hour". The program did well and they were soon offered their own variety show, "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour". It began as a summer replacement before becoming a regular series in the fall of 1971. This show was a successful top ten hit and during this time, Cher became a hot solo recording artist with three number one singles, "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves", "Half-Breed" and "Dark Lady". The series ran for four years but the marriage came to a bitter end by 1974 and so did the show. Each attempted to do their own variety show but neither was a great success. Sonny and Cher managed to patch up their differences and re-teamed for a new program, "The Sonny & Cher Show" in 1976 as an unmarried couple but the magic was gone and this show was cancelled by the following year.

Cher tried to continue her recording career but she just had a series of largely, unsuccessful albums. She had a brief peak with her disco album and had her first top ten hit in years with the title track, "Take Me Home" in 1979. After her 1982 album, "I Paralyze" failed to connect with audiences, despite heavy promotion, Cher decided to focus on working on an acting career.

She had much difficulty being taken seriously as an actress until director, Robert Altman gave Cher her first big break by casting her in the Broadway play, "Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" in 1982. She also performed in the filmed version of the play later that year which inspired director, Mike Nichols to hire her for a supporting part in his film, "Silkwood" that starred Meryl Streep. Cher received her first Academy Award nomination for this role which lead her to many other film roles until Cher won the Oscar for Best Actress for the romantic comedy, "Moonstruck" in 1987.

After her great achievement in film, Cher was ready to return to music as she signs with Geffen Records and releases a self-titled rock album later in '87. "I Found Someone" (written by Michael Bolton) placed Cher back in to the top ten and with the help of the follow-up single, "We All Sleep Alone", the album would sell over seven million copies worldwide. Cher releases two more highly successful, platinum albums; "Heart of Stone" (1989) and "Love Hurts" (1991) before she has to take some time off to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome.

She made occasional cameo film appearances before signing with WEA Records and releasing, "It's A Man's World" in 1995. It was mostly a rock cover album and had minor success only in Europe but it would be the next album that would become Cher's biggest commercial hit ever in her long career. "Believe" came out in 1998 and featured a collection of high-energy dance tracks. The title song became a massive smash, reaching number one in twenty-three countries and was the best selling record of that year. With the success of two other singles; "All Or Nothing" and "Strong Enough", the album went on to sell over twenty million copies and won a Grammy Award for "Best Dance Recording".

Cher followed-up with another dance album, "Living Proof" in 2002 and while it was no where near as successful as "Believe" but the world tour to support this new record was. It was billed as "Living Proof: The Farewell Tour" and it was supposed to be Cher's last time to perform live in front of audiences as well as a tribute to her many years in show business. The tour began in June 2002 and didn't end until April 2005 as it covered Europe, Asia and North America with a total of 3.2 million people attending these concerts.

Recently, Cher returned to the big screen in 2010 with, "Burlesque" that co-starred singer, Christina Aguilera making her film debut. The film's soundtrack featured a ballad performed by Cher, "You Haven't Seen The Last of Me" (written by Diane Warren) that won the Golden Globe for "Best Original Song". This song was also remixed in to a dance tune and went to number one on the U.S. dance chart. There are rumors that Cher is working on new music and may even go on tour to support the record.

Cher has recorded twenty-five solo studio albums, she is the only female recording artist to have a number one single on the Billboard charts over each of the past six decades and has sold over one hundred million albums.

Cher has been married twice; She was married to Sonny Bono for thirteen years before divorcing in 1975. They had a daughter, Chasity who recently went through gender reassignment in 2010 and is now a man named Chaz Bono. Sonny Bono passed away in 1998 during a skiing accident.

Shortly after her divorce from Bono, Cher met and quickly married blues-rock musician, Gregg Allman. This union lasted two years before ending in 1979. The couple have a son, Elijah Blue who is a rock guitarist and has his own band as well as touring with his mother.

Here are a just a few of my favorite Cher singles:

"All I Really Want To Do" - Cher (1965)

"Half-Breed" - Cher (1973)

"Dark Lady" - Cher (1974)

"Take Me Home" - Cher (1979)

"I Found Someone" - Cher (1987)

"Song For The Lonely" -  Cher (2002)

Sonny & Cher perform their first hit, "I Got You Babe" on the British program, "Top of The Pops" in 1965:

Here is Cher performing "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves" live on "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour":

This is the music video for "If I Could Turn Back Time" from 1989 that actually got banned on MTV because people were uncomfortable with seeing too much of Cher's tattooed ass. Although it seems like a complete overreaction now but the outfit she's wearing is still a little too much (even by today's standards):


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