Cherilyn Sarkisian first met Salvatore Bono in a Los Angeles coffee shop in November 1962.
She was sixteen.
He was 27, and married, and working for crazy man Phil Spector as a record producer.
The two became fast friends, and eventually lovers, and later married. Through Bono, Cher started as a session singer.
She sang backup on several of Spector’s classic recordings, including “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Richteous Brothers , and on Darlene Loves’, “A Fine, Fine Boy”.
The started singing as Caesar and Cleo; they released three songs in 1964 for Reprise Records, but no one cared. Well, they should have. But it was probably the name. In September of ’64, the released “Baby Don’t Go”, as Sonny and Cher, and everyone listened UP. It was a top 20 hit.
In 1965, their album Look at Us contained the hit “I Got You Babe”, their careers took off, they hit the road and their concerts were the hottest ticket out there. Wearing Animal Skins (PETA didn’t come along until 1980), with Sonny in Caveman Boots and Cher barefoot, they were musical and fashion statment hits.
Then they got rich, and famous, and started fighting. Some of there fights were very public, and one even got them banned from a fashionable Hollywood restaurant.
After a successful hour long television variety show, which everyone watched just to see what Cher wasn’t was wearing; success, fame, and stress took it’s toll on the marriage.
The couple’s career as a duo ended in 1975 following their divorce. In the decade they spent together, Sonny and Cher sold 80 million records worldwide.
Cher moved on, Sonny eventually went into politics.
When Cher and Bono divorced, they agreed to split revenue from the songs recorded together. Although there divorce was very public and very difficult, it never got mean. They had just had enough. Later, when Bono became a restauratuer, Cher attended an opening of one of his restaurants – it was a reconciliation of sorts.
They both moved on to other people, he married Mary Whitaker Bono Mack, a congresswoman. Cher married Greg Allman – a HUGE mistake, and “dated” several others…but the love and the beat were still there.
When Sonny died, his funeral was broadcast on CNN. Cher was unaware of the event was televised. She gave a tearful eulogy. After Cher spoke, the “congregation” sang, “The Beat Goes On”.
With an audience of millions, Cher tearfully and lovingly praised Bono, calling him “the most unforgettable character I’ve ever met.