Excerpt for The Cher Bible, Vol. 1: Essentials by , available in its entirety at Smashwords





Dedicated to my father


Graham Wheway

1963 – 2016


Contents


Introduction


The Cher Story

I) 1946 - 1969: I Got You Babe — Sonny & Cher Top The Charts

II) 1970 - 1980: Living In A House Divided — TV's Sonny & Cher Separate

III) 1981 - 1995: Working Girl — Cher Earns Hollywood Acclaim

IV) 1998 - 2016: Believe — Cher Claims Her Goddess Of Pop Title


The Cher Discography

I) Studio Albums

II) Compilation Albums

III) Live Albums

IV) Soundtrack Albums

V) Singles


Songs Written By Cher


The Cher Filmography

I) Films

II) Television Series' & Specials

III) Music Videos


Cher's Tours


Cher's Awards


Cher's Relationships


Cher Q&A


What Other Stars Say About Cher



Introduction


Rightfully coined the “Goddess of Pop”, Cher has conquered music, film and television during her 50-year showbiz career, selling 100-million records, grossing $650-million on tour, drawing $700-million at the U.S. Box Office and winning Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.


She is one-half of highly-successful duo Sonny & Cher, a multi-million-selling doll, multi-million-selling fitness icon, hit songwriter, enduring sex symbol, award-winning television producer, film director, video director, award-winning fashion icon, author, model, humanitarian, mother, daughter, and of course the idol of a highly diverse fan base.





The Cher Story


1946 – 1969

I Got You Babe — Sonny & Cher Top The Charts


Cher's mother, Georgia Holt, was an aspiring actress who headed to Hollywood during adolescence to find fame. However, showbiz success evaded Georgia, and by 1945, she was in a penniless marriage to Armenian truck driver John Sarkisian, with whom she was now expecting a baby.


Georgia's mother pressured her to have an illegal abortion but she backed out on the abortion table — she gave birth to her daughter Cherilyn “Cher” Sarkisian on 20 May 1946.


John took Georgia and an infant Cher to Pittsburgh before bailing on them, thus leaving Georgia to raise Cher alone in the city whilst working for tips as a waitress in an all-night diner. A struggling Georgia placed her daughter in a Catholic orphanage for a small time but found herself having to fight in order to get Cher back when the nuns there deemed her an “unfit mother”.


“I remember my mom, she was pretty outlandish for her time. She was a model and she was beautiful and she was on the cutting edge.”

Cher


“We were dead poor”, Cher has since recalled. Georgia raised Cher whilst frequently relocating homes but at one point settled down for a while with new husband Gilbert LaPiere — whom Cher learned to call “Dad”.


Cher had entertainment running through her veins from the get-go. A three-year-old Cher ran around the house singing, naked, whilst a four-year-old Cher developed a desire to be on the big screen when she was taken to a theatre to watch classic feature-length animation Dumbo. Inspired by her mother's Broadway musical cast albums, a five-year-old Cher was already putting on small performances for her mother and her new baby sister, Georganne LaPiere.


Trivia: The first song Cher learned was Hey, Good Lookin' by Hank Williams; and the first record Cher ever bought was Tequila by The Champs.


It came at little surprise then that during fifth grade, 1956-'57, Cher was gathering girls from her grammar school to help her put on a performance of Oklahoma! for her class and teacher. Even then, Cher had a low voice, which came in handy when she was void of boy volunteers for her show, thus performing all the male parts herself.


Cher had inherited her dark looks from her Armenian father, who she did not meet until a visit from him after turning eleven years of age. She felt let down by her father — he was addicted to heroin and pawned Georgia's jewellery. By fifteen years of age, Cher had become uncomfortable with her dark hair, eyes and skin, having been surrounded by her blond mother's blond family. However, 1961's Breakfast At Tiffany's finally gave her a fellow non-blond and “irregular”-looking idol in the shape of its star Audrey Hepburn.


In 1962, Cher began a brief loveless sexual romance with 25-year-old actor Warren Beatty, dropped out of school and began acting classes. In November, she met and befriended struggling songwriter Salvatore Bono, known to most as “Sonny”, in a Los Angeles coffee shop.


“I got my first look at Salvatore Phillip Bono. I will never forget it, because everyone else in the room disappeared, just washed away into some fuzzy soft focus.”

Cher


Sonny had tried — and failed — to gain success as a recording artist since 1955, and after meeting Cher, he landed a job working for now-legendary record producer Phil Spector as a promotion man at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, before adding “percussionist” and “background singer” to his job title. Rooting from a friendship, Cher and Sonny became romantically involved, and next time Beatty called her — after eight months of no contact — she told him that she was now in love with Sonny.


Up until that point, Cher aspired to be an actress, like her mother, whom had now landed minor TV and film roles. However, Sonny, who was enjoying some success as a songwriter with his co-penned Needles & Pins by Jackie DeShannon (US#84), introduced Cher to Spector, who provided her with the job of a "baby-sitter" for his girlfriend Ronnie Bennett.


Spector eventually hired Cher to perform alongside Sonny, and others, as a background singer at the Gold Star Recording Studios in July 1963 when one of his usual background singers, Darlene Love, could not make it in time to record Spector's latest masterpiece: The Ronettes' classic Be My Baby. The US#2 hit was Sonny & Cher's first joint professional recording, alas as background singers.


Sonny and Cher were background singers on virtually every Spector recording until October 1964, when they sang back-up on another masterpiece — The Righteous Brothers' US and UK #1 You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'. Other classics that feature Sonny and Chers' background vocals are The Ronettes' Transatlantic Top 40 hits Baby I Love You and Do I Love You?, and Darlene Love's festive favourite Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).


“She was so loud, so powerful, she was louder than everybody in this studio. So Phil would keep telling her 'OK move back... Move back Cher... Move back Cher. One time I said, 'You're gonna move her back so far, she's gonna be in the alley in a minute.'”

Darlene Love


Meanwhile, the couple emerged as a musical duo under the name of "Caesar & Cleo", playing gigs of cover hits, whilst releasing a cover of Don & Dewey's little-known The Letter on Vault Records in February 1964 — which stirred some interest in California. Sonny — whose Needles & Pins had just been revived into a UK#1 hit by The Searchers — persuaded Spector to record Cher. Her March debut solo single Ringo, I Love You — an ode to Ringo Starr with elements of The Beatles' She Loves You — was released under the pseudonym “Bonnie Jo mason” on the newly-formed Annette Records label. It went by unnoticed.


“Elvis was really my biggest inspiration, because my voice was so not girly (first record I put out was called 'Ringo, I love you', and they wouldn't play it because they thought I was a guy). He was the only artist I could really identify with.”

Cher


Still as “Caesar & Cleo”, the duo signed with Reprise Records and released another overlooked single: a rousing cover of Mickey & Sylvia's Love Is Strange. Almost simultaneously — and with a name change to "Sonny & Cher" under a new contract — they released Sonny-original Baby Don't Go, which, due to its small popularity in California and Texas, finally gave them an appearance on a Billboard music chart, alas the Billboard “Bubbling Under” chart — a chart of the week's best-selling singles that missed the main Billboard Hot 100. An attempt to get a cover of Bobby Freeman's Do You Want To Dance onto the Netherlands music chart failed.


Sonny was determined to get him and/or Cher a proper hit record, and just prior to the year's end, he penned a solo Cher song called Dream Baby, which too was a minor hit in California. A February 1965 attempt to get Baby Don't Go onto the UK charts failed but a switch to Atco Records saw another US single release — April's Sonny-written Spector-sound-a-like Just You. Like the duo's last single, it was a minor hit in California and Texas. Meanwhile, they were playing gigs up and down the West Coast, making appearances on Television shows Shivaree and Shindig! and were back in the recording studio to record Sonny's latest composition, I Got You Babe.


The hard work started to pay off: July saw Cher's cover of Bob Dylan's All I Really Want To Do enter the lower part of Billboard's Hot 100 — becoming her first hit record. Meanwhile, After several failed attempts to catch a proper big break in the US, Sonny & Cher took the advice of The Rolling Stones (who were in the US on their first West Coast tour) of moving to England to hit it big.


“I loved songs that weren't as big of hits. I loved Just You. I loved All I Really Want to Do too; that was fun. Everyone thought that was a Sonny & Cher record because they didn't know I could jump the octaves that easily.”

Cher


Sonny and Cher and their managers Charlie Greene and Brian Stone sold their cars to raise cash for the plane tickets. In protest of their hippie appearance, the London Hilton hotel turned Sonny and Cher away from its premises the morning that they arrived, and photographers captured the display as the hotel staff proceeded to escort them out the door (Cher later heard that Greene had arranged the whole thing for a publicity stunt). As a result, Sonny & Cher were on the front page of the British papers later that same day. Whilst the London Hilton objected to the couple's alternative image, it captured the rest of the British nation's interest.


“When I was young we got beaten up for looking the way we looked. No one even dared to look different. The Beatles had nice hair cuts and were in suits. The Stones were kind of on the fringe.”

Cher


The duo had become an overnight sensation as interview and photoshoot requests came flooding in the next day for the pair. More importantly, London deejays discovered and began to spin their latest recording, I Got You Babe. Sonny & Cher were quickly snapped up to make promotional appearances for the song on UK television shows Ready Steady Go and Top of The Pops. Babe knocked the Beatles' Help! off the top of the UK single charts near the end of August and stayed there for a second week.


Sonny & Cher returned home to America where they were greeted at the airport by roughly five-thousand new American teenage fans. Also greeting them was the presence of I Got You Babe at the top of the US charts — where it would spend three weeks. It even crossed over to reach #19 on the R&B Singles chart. The classic sixties duet has since sold over three-million copies worldwide.


Cher's All I Really Want To Do had to battle The Byrd's version of the same song in the charts. The group's version rose to #40 in the US and #4 in the UK. Cher's version performed arguably better, reaching the Top 20 on both sides of the Atlantic: #15 in the US and #9 in the UK.


Baby Don't Go was re-released, reaching #1 in Canada, #8 in the US and #11 in the UK, as was Just You, which hit #20 in the US. With the addition of Sonny's solo self-penned Laugh At Me (US#10, UK#9, Canada#1), the overnight sensations had an impressive five hits on the US Hot 100 chart simultaneously. Before long, a re-issue of The Letter also made an appearance at #75 on the US Hot 100.


The duo's 3-million-selling Gold-certified debut album Look At Us spent a staggering eight weeks at #2 on the Billboard 200, whilst reaching #7 in the UK. It hit #3 in Australia where track Sing C'est La Vie was issued as a single, reaching #2 (and #1 in Belgium). Cher's million-selling debut album All I Really Want To Do, fuelled solely by its title track, reached #7 in the UK and #16 in the US (where it spent an impressive six months on the chart). A Reprise label compilation album featuring songs by "Sonny & Cher and Friends" titled Baby Don't Go reached #69 in the US: it featured their “Caesar & Cleo” recordings alongside songs from other artists on the label's roster, namely Bill Medley, The Lettermen and The Blendells.


Sonny was writing, producing and arranging the majority of their material — most of which was folk-rock. Meanwhile, Cher had fast become a trendsetter for millions of teenage girls, who imitated her unique image: the jet-black straight hair; the Cleopatra-style eye liner; the equally-bold mascara; the furry waistcoats; and the often-striped bell-bottom trousers. Cher would remain a trendsetter for her whole career.


September saw the couple appear on some of the biggest television shows in America, such as Where The Action Is, Hullabaloo and perhaps most excitingly, The Ed Sullivan Show. On the latter show, the host pronounced Cher's name incorrectly, like "Chur", and thus led her to style her name as “Chér” for most of the next ten years. Cher performed new Sonny-penned teenage angst-themed solo single Where Do You Go (US#25) whilst the duo performed their new single But You're Mine (UK#15, US#17). Sonny & Cher appeared as themselves in the film Wild on the Beach, singing the I Got You Babe B-side and Look At Us album track It's Gonna Rain.


February 1966 saw Sonny & Cher take on popular ballad What Now My Love as their new single, which showcased that Cher's deep voice was certainly powerful enough to fit comfortably alongside other great female singers of the time, such as Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark. It reached #16 in the US and #13 in the UK — the only Transatlantic Top 20 version of the much-covered song. It came from their new album The Wondrous World of Sonny & Chér, which reached #34 on the US Billboard 200 when released in April, and #15 in the UK.


Cher's new single Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) became her first million-selling solo single, reaching #2 in the US and #3 in the UK. It became one of Sonny's most-covered compositions, eventually being reworked by Stevie Wonder, Petula Clark, Cliff Richard, Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra and Lady Gaga among many others. It was lifted from Cher's second solo studio album The Sonny Side of Chér (US#26, UK#11).


Have I Stayed Too Long failed to become a Top 40 hit single for the duo, reaching #49 in the US and #42 in the UK, but the outlandish couple were nominated at the 1966 Grammy Awards for 'Best New Artist' alongside the likes of The Byrds, Herman's Hermits and eventual winner Tom Jones.


In September, Little Man — written by Sonny and sang mostly by Cher — was released, becoming a million-selling European smash-hit for the duo despite only reaching #21 in the US. It became their second UK Top 5 hit in the UK (#4).


Cher's third album Chér followed maybe a little too quickly and stalled at #59 in the US and became her first album not to chart in the UK. It did, however, contain the UK Top 75 chart hits Sunny (Bobby Hebb cover, #32 — and a #2 hit in multiple European countries) and I Feel Something In The Air (Sonny composition tackling unwanted pregnancy, #42), as well as the US#32 hit Alfie (played during the closing credits of that year's hit Michael Caine-starring movie of the same name).


After the November 1966 disappointing performances of the duo's Living For You (UK#42, US#87), Cher's Behind The Door (US#97) and her Mama (When My Dollies Have Babies) (US#124 — though #70 on Billboard Hot 100's rival Cash box Top 100 Singles chart), Sonny unleashed a new song for the duo in January 1967: The Beat Goes On (UK#29). The song propelled the duo back to the Top 10 (#6) of the US singles charts.


Meanwhile, Sonny & Cher became briefly controversial in Pasadena, California in January for siding with the "Sunset Strip Rioters" — teenagers protesting the city's new curfew — and as a result, were removed from their promised position of honor in the next day's Tournament of Roses Parade. That same month, they entered Italy's San Remo song festival with two songs — the duo's Il cammino di ogni speranza and Cher's solo Ma piano (Per non svegliarmi) — but failed to reach the final rounds.


“It's a good thing that we were so entertained by each other because we were constantly together.”

Cher


Despite the inclusion of The Beat Goes On, Sonny & Cher's March album In Case You're in Love only peaked at #45 on the US Billboard 200. It did not chart in the UK at all. That same month, they appeared in acting roles on an episode of NBC's TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. A month later, they released A Beautiful Story, which peaked at #53 on the US Hot 100.


Sonny was inspired to make a film for the duo to star in despite Cher's unenthusiasm about the project. Directed by William Friedkin and co-starring George Sanders, the movie was titled Good Times and released in April 1967. It premièred in Austin, Texas — where it did well. However, elsewhere, it was a commercial and critical failure. The following month, they released the soundtrack album to the film, which fared arguably better, charting at #73 in the US. In the following months, they released the small hit singles Plastic Man (US#74, and notably #49 in France) and taken from the aforementioned soundtrack album, fan-favourite It's The Little Things (US#50).


Sonny & Cher released their first greatest hits package in August, The Best of Sonny & Chér. The collection was highly successful, reaching #23 on the US Billboard 200, on which it would chart for an impressive forty-seven weeks. Their upbeat December 1967 single Good Combination reached #53 on the US Hot 100. However, it would be their final hit single of the decade. Following the release of her Jim Hendrix-cover Hey Joe (US#94) and new studio album With Love, Chér (US#47), the female-half of the duo enjoyed a solo comeback with December's You Better Sit Down Kids (US#9), a song about divorce — an unusual subject for a pop song at the time. However, despite once again achieving Top 10 status, that would be her final solo hit of the decade.


“By 1968, Sonny and I had fallen off the charts. It was a different time, a different sound.”

Cher


Sonny & Cher's pop ditties (Circus and You Gotta Have A Thing of Your Own) stopped reaching the US Hot 100 as the anti-drug duo became disconnected with the majority of the record-buying public, which had turned on to acid-rock as part of the in-full-swing drug culture (American actress Lily Tomlin recalls Cher's anti-drug stance: “She and I went out to dinner and someone famous came over to our table and literally laid lines of coke on the table and Cher was appalled”.) In a bid to recover their career, Sonny thought up plans to write and produce a film for Cher to star in, entitled Chastity. He placed all of the duo's savings into making the movie. During its production, Cher announced that she was pregnant.


Despite the dried-up record sales, Sonny & Cher were still hitting some popular events in 1968 including April's 40th Annual Academy Awards, June's Martin Luther King Benefit at Madison Square Garden and August's Newport Pop Festival — the first ever music concert to have more than 100,000 paid attendees.


Cher's July album Backstage was her first to not chart in the US, or produce any Billboard hit singles (despite attempts with The Click Song, which did hit #78 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart and #84 on further US Hot 100 rival Record World 100 Top Pops, and Take Me For A Little While). Her first solo compilation album, titled Golden Greats, was released before the year's end. It contained all of her US and UK Top 40 hits but reached a very low #195 on the US Billboard 200 chart.


In February 1969, Cher's stand-alone single Yours Until Tomorrow failed to chart and went by unnoticed. On 4 March, Cher (whom up to this point had experienced four miscarriages) and Sonny had their first child; a daughter whom they named Chastity Sun Bono, after their new feature film. Devastatingly for Cher, when Chastity was six-weeks-old, Sonny revealed to her that they were in debt by $270,000 to the IRS.


Before long, Sonny and Cher got married. Their relationship was moving forward but their career and finances were in danger. The film Chastity opened in theatres on 24 June 1969 to mixed reviews and was a Box Office failure. Its predominantly-instrumental soundtrack album of the same name unsurprisingly did not chart, and contained the Cher track Chastity's Song (Bands Of Thieves), which became a flop single.


Cher — who had begun to grow out her 1960's trademark bangs/fringe — also released a new studio album in June entitled 3614 Jackson Highway. It received critical acclaim but only charted at #160, and none of its singles (I Walk On Guilded Splinters, and Bob Dylan-cover Lay Lady Lay) reached the US Hot 100, despite Billboard predicting that her cover of Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth would become one of her biggest hits. A follow-up album was recorded — including non-charting single You've Made Me So Very Happy — but was not released (until 2001).




1970 – 1980

Living In A House Divided – TV's Sonny & Cher Separate


Sonny & Cher had hit hard times. They were in worryingly heavy debt, and thus had to perform at nightclubs. By no choice of their own, Sonny & Cher had to reinvent their image for the nightclub circuit. Sonny was required to wear tuxedos, Cher was required to wear evening dresses. Just years ago, the duo were selling out 30,000-seat arenas. Now, on a good night, they were playing to a couple of hundred. Steadily, and accidentally, somewhat due to the disinterest of their small audiences, they incorporated humour into their act in-between songs.


The changes to their stage show proved to be a success as audience numbers grew steadily thanks to positive word-of-mouth. Requests came in for the duo to do guest spots on television shows, such as The Barbara McNair Show, which gave them extensive airtime to showcase their stage act. They even fronted their own 1970 one-off variety hour, The Sonny & Cher Nitty Gritty Hour, containing a mix of slapstick comedy, skits and live music.


Although their recording career was still at a low, with a pre-Carpenters Superstar and Sonny-penned ballad Classified 1A not reaching the US Hot 100 for Cher and Get It Together missing out for the duo, Sonny & Cher were offered a chance to guest-host The Merv Griffin Show. When their potential was spotted by CBS head of programming Fred Silverman, he offered them the opportunity to do something much more substantial than guest hosting: a chance to star in their own television series.


The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour premièred on 1 August 1971 and aired weekly for six shows as a summer replacement show. It was a huge ratings success. Millions of viewers per week enjoyed the variety show's mixture of memorable comedy sketches, famous guests and of course, Sonny & Cher's music.


Having released single Real people just a couple of months ago in June 1971 to zero success, the duo saw the opportunity to turn their successful, and now televised, stage act into album sales. In September, as their variety show was closing its very successful run on television, Sonny & Cher took advantage and revived their music career — swapping their folk-rock beginnings for adult contemporary material. They released the album Sonny and Cher Live. It contained live versions of old hits and covers, and was a success, charting at #35 on the Billboard 200 and ultimately going Gold. Cher's new single, the story song Gypsy's, Tramps & Thieves marked a humongous return to success for her, reaching the #1 spot on the US Hot 100 and enjoying a two-week stay there. The song, which some listeners speculate has rape and prostitution in its narrative, also became her biggest UK hit in five years (#4), and eventually sold 3 million copies worldwide. She also released her new album: originally entitled Chér then unsurprisingly re-titled Gypsys Tramps & Thieves, it was her highest-selling solo album yet, reaching #16 in America (where it spent 45 weeks on the chart).


The husband-and-wife's joint comeback single, October's All I Ever Need Is You, was also a massive success. It became their second transatlantic Top 10 single, reaching #7 in the US and #8 in the UK. It sold over a million copies worldwide.


Due to the high ratings of their summer series, their variety show The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour returned full-time to US television with a second series in late-December and was an immediate hit. The show's theme tune was an instrumental version of their 1967 US Top Ten hit The Beat Goes On and at the end of most episodes, they would sing their signature hit I Got You Babe. Old hits aside, the duo would perform their latest releases during the series, giving their records great exposure — something that was reflected in their sales at the time.


Early 1972 provided more success for the pair. Cher's ballad The Way Of Love was another major success, reaching #7 on the US Hot 100 and selling close to a million copies. Titled after their recent hit, the couple's new album All I Ever Need Is You became their highest-charting US album since their debut, peaking at #14 — and selling a million copies. Their next single A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done was another US top ten hit, reaching #8 and again, was a million-seller. At the 1972 Grammy Awards, single Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and single All I Ever Need Is You was nominated for Best Pop Vocal by a Duo or Group.


Superpak, a compilation of Cher's 1960's recordings, hit #92 on the Billboard 200. And 1967's The Best of Sonny & Cher returned to the charts for another 17 weeks — bringing its Billboard 200 weeks-on-chart tally to a whopping sixty-four weeks.


Due to the variety show's success, Cher had once again become a major trend-setter. Dressed every week in lavish Bob Mackie-designed gowns and now often sporting various outlandish wigs — something that she would stick with throughout the rest of her career — millions of women watched the show to see what she was wearing. Notably, Cher was the first woman to expose her navel on US television. Moreover, she graced the front cover of fashion magazine Vogue five times from April 1972 to February 1975.


“Maybe some people thought I looked ridiculous, but that was okay by me. Look, I'd started out as a skinny little kid from the Valley. And now I'd become a one-named enigma called Cher.”

Cher


In addition to recording music and making a television series, Sonny & Cher were also hitting the road in the little spare time they had on an American tour.


The variety show's second series finished in late March and would not return until September with its third series. While off-air, Sonny & Cher's latest records did not sell as well as their predecessors. Their July 1972 single-only release When you Say Love performed moderately, reaching number 32 on the US Hot 100. Cher's solo May ballad about separation Living In A House Divided settled at number 22 and its July parent album Foxy Lady stopped at #43. However, when the show returned in September, sales failed to pick-up despite the show's ongoing success. Cher's September solo uptempo single Don't Hide Your Love (penned by Neil Sedaka, who “loved” her interpretation) failed to hit the Top 40 (US#46).


A compilation album consisting of Sonny & Cher's early material, titled The Two of Us, reached #122 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Cher's Superpak Vol.II reached #97 on the Billboard 200.


Sonny & Cher's fortunes were mixed: their television career was booming; their latest record sales were once again dwindling; and unbeknownst to fans, the couple's relationship was in serious trouble. By November, their marriage had experienced a long slide into crisis and Cher told Sonny — whom had had multiple affairs throughout their relationship — that she wanted to leave him. However, Sonny convinced Cher that she should continue to appear alongside him publicly as a happily married couple for their career's sake.


Trivia: Cher's favourite films are Godfather and its sequel Godfather II.


The duo made an appearance at the 30th Golden Globe Awards in January 1973, and whilst the third series of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour ended in March 1973, the duo made an appearance at the The 45th Annual Academy Awards to present the award for 'Best Original Song'.


Sonny & Cher released the lengthy-titled single Mama Was A Rock And Roll Singer, Papa Used To Write All Her Songs. It reached just #77 in the US. Its identically-titled parent album only reached #132 — their least successful studio album to-date.


Cher's new album Bittersweet White Light was released the next month. It marked a very temporary departure in Cher's recording style; the album consisted mostly of covers of American standards. It only reached #140. Its sole single Am I Blue missed out on the US Hot 100 but did reach #79 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart.


If their latest chart showings were anything to go by, Sonny & Cher's music seemed to be falling out of favour with the public once again. However, Cher's next single breathed new life into her solo output: July's Half Breed — a story-song about a girl facing racism. It became her third overall #1 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, spending two weeks there during a 20-week run on the chart. It sold a staggering two-million copies worldwide. Sonny & Cher’s new single The Greatest Show on Earth, however, failed to chart. Behind closed doors, Sonny's new girlfriend moved in to live under the same roof as Sonny, Cher and Chastity. By the end of the month, Cher found solace in entertainment magnate David Geffen, whom she began dating.


Trivia: Cher owned an appaloosa horse named Red Mark


Cher's latest album, Half-Breed, was released in September and would ultimately hit #28 on the US Billboard 200 with a 25-week chart run and a Gold certification from the RIAA. Cher's career was back on a massive high. Her January 1974 single Dark Lady became her third million-selling solo US#1 hit in less than two-and-a-half years, and she won the 'Best Actress – Musical or Comedy Series' Golden Globe award that month for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.


“For the year-and-a-half that we did The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour after our separation I didn't have much of a social life. That was a deal I made with Sonny, that I wouldn't go out in public without him.”

Cher


Sonny & Cher's records however, as a duo, remained struggling. Live in Las Vegas Vol.2, a sequel to the duo's 1971 US Top 40 live album, only crawled to #175 and their Greatest Hits (though just 1970's material) stalled at #146 on the US Billboard 200.


Whilst David Geffen checked over Cher's contract, he pointed out that Sonny had constructed their business so that contractually Sonny owned 95% of everything they earned, with the other 5% going to their lawyer. Even worse, Cher was tied up in this contract for two more years. The only way she could be free of the contract was via divorce.


On 20 February 1974, Cher filed for divorce.


Although the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was expected to return in October, it was cancelled when it became apparent that the duo could no longer work together on the series, despite it being among the Top 10 (#7) top-rated primetime television series of the 1973-74 season as measured by Nielsen Media Research. Unsurprisingly, the divorce of America’s most popular showbiz couple became big news.


After receiving a total of fifteen Emmy Award nominations, the last ever episode of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour aired in March. Two months later, Cher scored another moderate hit with Train of Thought (US#27) and then I Saw A Man & He Danced With His Wife (US#42) in August.


In September, Sonny starred in his own variety show named The Sonny Bono Comedy Revue. As his show began, Cher revealed plans for her own variety show.


In October, Cher’s record company released a Greatest Hits album. Featuring just solo hits from the last four years, the album only reached #152 on the Billboard 200 Chart. Two Cher singles were issued in November: Carousel Man missed out on the US Hot 100 but reached #111 on the Record World 100 Top Pops and #88 on the Canadian singles charts; and A Woman's Story, a stand-alone single produced in a reunion with ex-employer Phil Spector, again failed to reach the US Hot 100 but reached #66 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart and #83 on the Canadian singles chart. By the end of the year, Cher's romantic relationship with Geffen had ended — but they remained firm friends and Geffen signed up to be producer of her upcoming solo series. She instead began dating rocker Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band.


Cher’s solo show, simply titled Cher, debuted on 12 February 1975 with a television special featuring Elton John, Flip Wilson and Bette Midler. The variety show was being produced by Geffen and was an instant success. It showcased Cher in comedy sketches, musical spots and the star herself interviewing other celebrities. By the time the show had debuted, Sonny’s show had been cancelled.


“With David Geffen producing, the Cher show was a huge success. It knocked off The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night, which Freddie Silverman and CBS had been trying to do since the year dot.”

Cher


Cher received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series for Cher, and in March, her cover of Fontella Bass' 1965 classic Rescue Me reached #84 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart and #82 on the Canadian singles chart. Another single from her recent studio sessions with Phil Spector was released in April — a cover of Martha Reeves & The Vandella’s A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Every Day), a duet with Without You-singer Harry Nilsson. The lush production failed to chart.


April also saw the release of Cher’s new album, Stars. Although the album was warmly received by critics, and promoted well, it only reached #153 in America (though has since become a fan-favorite). Its single Geronimo’s Cadillac failed to chart.


On 30 June, three days after her divorce from Sonny became final, Cher married Gregg Allman. Nine days later, Cher famously filed for divorce when she realized that Allman had serious alcohol and drug problems. Allman instead promised that he would become clean.


In December, Allman himself filed for divorce. He retracted this decision when he and Cher realized that she was pregnant. Before the year's end, Cher ranked at #9 in People Magazine's 25 Most Intriguing People.


In Jan 1976, season 2 of Cher came to an end after 15 episodes. Cher decided not to make any further episodes and surprisingly decided to reunite with Sonny for a new variety show. Less than a month later, in February, Sonny and Cher returned to television sets together in The Sonny & Cher Show. The variety show was not much different from their original The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour but instead featured all-new characters and sketches. It opened to high ratings — but these began to steadily decline as the season approached its April finale.


On 10 July, a day after recording finished for a new album, Cher and Gregg Allman’s son was born. He was named Elijah Blue Allman. Sometime following his birth, Cher had mastopexy — breast-lift surgery.


“When I was pregnant with Elijah I had a gigantic chest. After the birth, I didn't like the way my breasts looked. And my clothes didn't fit anymore. So I had them just kind of ... tighten up the skin.”

Cher


The Sonny & Cher Show returned in September. In an effort to recapture viewers that it had lost during season one, popular features from their 1971-1974 show were brought back, such as Cher's character Laverne and the famous Vamp sketches.


In October, Cher returned to releasing music with her new single Long Distance Love Affair and its poorly-promoted parent album, I’d Rather Believe In You. Both failed to chart. However, even with record sales at a low and TV viewership decreasing, Cher was highly-popular among the doll-buying public. Toy-makers Mego sold more than 2,000,000 Cher dolls in 1976, making it the company's best-selling toy of 1976.


In January 1977, Cher released her new single Pirate. It brought her back to the US Hot 100, alas only to #93. In March, with guest Tina Turner, the season 2 finale of The Sonny & Cher Show aired. It would be the last ever episode as the variety show was not renewed for a third season.


The next month, Cher released another album, Cherished. Cher was unhappy with the album, only recording it for contractual reasons. It was barely publicized and was ignored by critics and the public, thus not charting. Unsurprisingly, May’s single War Paint and Soft Feathers failed to enter the charts.


Despite Cher's reluctance, Sonny & Cher reunited to make a single before the year was over. You're Not Right For Me — as it was titled — went by unnoticed. It would be their last.


Cher's focus was on her new husband-and-wife duo. In November, she and Gregg Allman released an album together entitled Two The Hard Way, under the name “Allman & Woman”. The pair embarked on the worldwide Two The Hard Way Tour. However, in December, Cher left Allman for good, leaving him in Europe and returning to America with her children, after realizing that he had resumed his alcoholic behaviour. The album was critically-panned and despite the tour, it sold poorly, with no chart appearances.


"By 1978, I was a working single parent with two children and loads of debt. I had to go back to the clubs, and this time on my own."

Cher


Cher's last three albums had failed to chart and whether she could still attract big numbers on TV was to be tested: on 3 April 1978, Cher starred in her own television special, fittingly entitled Cher... Special. The show featuring A-list guest stars Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton, and at one point, Cher playing all the characters in a West Side Story-remake. It was a ratings success for its television network, ABC, and was ranked among the top ten most watched programs of the week. Around this time, Cher legally changed her full name from Cherilyn Bono Allman to just, amazingly, "Cher".


“I settled on Cher Bono Allman, because I didn't want either of my children to feel left out. One day I woke up and thought screw this — I don't want either of these names.

Cher


In February 1979, Cher — with full support from her new record label Casablanca — swerved her recording career into a new direction with the release of disco single Take Me Home. The new sound was a success as the single climbed all the way to #8 on the US Hot 100, being certified Gold a few months down the line for shifting a million copies. Its identically-titled parent album, consisting mainly of disco songs, was released that same month and was also a big success — it rose to #25 on the American charts, also collecting a Gold certification. One of its tracks was co-written by Cher and another included brief guest vocals by Kiss-rocker Gene Simmons — who Cher was now in a relationship with.


ABC television special Cher... and Other Fantasies showcased some of Cher's new album when it hit the small screen in March 1979. The second single from the LP, May's Wasn't It Good, proved to be a a moderate success, peaking just inside the Top 50 at #49 in the US.


Cher then began three years of concerts with her first solo tour, The Take Me Home Tour, which featured a dozen costume changes, elaborate choreography, two female impersonators and a mechanical bull. The show initially hit the road before taking residence at Las Vegas's Caesars Palace in August.


Cher made a temporary departure from her new-found disco sound with her album's third single, Dolly Parton-cover It's Too Late (To Love Me Now), which gave her a #87 placement on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart. Cher made her first proper music video — notably pre-MTV — to promote new single Hell On Wheels. Unfortunately, the video, which latched onto the roller-skating trend, didn't help the single to climb any higher than #59 on the US Hot 100. Its parent album Prisoner boasted perhaps her most-risqué album cover ever (almost nude, draped in chains). Unfortunately, the album did not chart, despite being released in the same year as its Gold-certified predecessor. Hell On Wheels also featured in that year's Linda Blair-starring movie Roller Boogie and on its soundtrack album.


Chastity's teacher advised Cher to have her ten-year-old daughter evaluated because she suspected that she may have a learning problem — not only did Cher find out that Chastity had dyslexia, but also that she had it herself.


“They told me that I was dyslexic, too. It was like a big, 'Ohhh...'. Now I understood everything, why I had so much trouble at school. It all fit together.”

Cher


A self-penned disco song, Bad Love, appeared in February 1980's Jodie Foster-starring movie Foxes and on its soundtrack album — the whole album reached #30 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart. The next month, Cher failed to grab another US Hot 100 placement with disco single Holdin' Out For Love.


Meanwhile, fellow star Diana Ross was gearing up to release her disco album Diana but was unsure about its potential black-and-white minimal un-Diana cover photo. She turned to Cher for advice, whom told her, “You ain't never looked that good”. A convinced Ross stuck with it, and the album became her biggest-selling studio set, and thus the cover shot remains iconic.


Cher herself returned to her rock 'n' roll roots, and assembled rock band Black Rose featuring herself on lead vocals and eventual-boyfriend Les Dudek (The Steve Miller Band) on guitar. Despite song-writing credits from Bernie Taupin, Mike Chapman, David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager, their November self-titled album failed to reach the charts, as did lead single Young and Pretty, despite a supporting mini-tour and some television promotion. Black Rose's second single Never Should've Started also failed to chart when released in February 1981. That same month, American cable channel HBO aired Standing Room Only: Cher in Concert — a recording of her ongoing solo tour.


Cher was back at Caesar's Place in January 1981 for her solo The Take Me Home Tour, although at some point, it transformed into A Celebration at Caesar's Place — a different show with an updated setlist, new costumes, and evidently, a name change. Cher revealed that she was earning $320,000 a week for her performances there. Before her final show at the venue in July, one date was recorded, and later broadcast in 1983 as Cher: A Celebration at Caesar's on American cable channel Showtime.


“I was making a fortune on the road, but I was dying inside. Everyone kept saying, 'Cher, there are people who would give anything to have standing room only at Caesar's Place. It would be the pinnacle of their careers.' And I kept thinking, 'Yes, I should be satisfied, I've got to be satisfied. But I wasn't satisfied.'”

Cher




1981 – 1995

Working Girl — Cher Earns Hollywood Acclaim


November 1981 saw a surprise return to the UK charts for Cher when she duetted with Meat Loaf, alas uncredited, on the uptempo rock single Dead Ringer For Love. Taken from his UK#1 album Dead Ringer, the single became his biggest hit in the country, reaching #5 and spending an impressive seventeen weeks on the chart. Cher also featured alongside Meat Loaf in the single's music video, in an all-black leather rock-chick get-up.


Cher had spent five years trying to score an acting role, but Hollywood was evidently against the idea with nobody offering her a chance to read for a part. Cher's ambition to act finally caught the attention of someone willing to give her a chance: unconventional director Robert Altman. He offered her — and Cher accepted — a starring role alongside Sandy Dennis and Karen Black in his Broadway play Come Back To The 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, which ran from February to April 1981.


Meanwhile, Cher was attempting to rejuvenate her solo music career by releasing the uptempo March single Rudy. Unfortunately, the poorly-promoted upbeat pop-rock single failed to chart.


By the end of August, Cher had completely wrapped up the Caesar's Palace performances, and was releasing her next — and ultimately un-charting, though promoted — single I Paralyze.


Starring the same trio as the play, Cher starred in the movie adaptation of Robert Altman's Come Back To The 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. It premièred in the US in September at the Chicago International Film Festival, after which it reportedly received a ten-minute standing ovation and won the festival's Best Film Award. Altman disallowed major US studios from handling the film, instead allowing newly-found independent film company Cinecom to handle its distribution. This resulted in the film being showed in just four venues across North America, but it still reached #18 at the Box Office. Its $840,958 US gross wasn't the only reflection of the film's reception, as come Golden Globe Awards time, it received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture — for Cher.


The release of the new movie coincided with the release of Cher's new pop/rock studio album I Paralyze, which failed to chart and would remain her last album for five years, whilst she concentrated on movies.


Cher — who had begun to wear braces to straighten her teeth — was then asked by director Mike Nichols to star alongside Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell in his upcoming film Silkwood, based on the last years of labor activist Karen Silkwood. Without knowing what the role was, Cher immediately said “yes” when offered the chance to star alongside Streep in a movie. Through Streep, Cher met actor Val Kilmer, whom she began a relationship with.


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