Remembering the artist and politician Sonny Bono on his birthday

Bono helped to launch Cher’s career with their successful duo Sonny & Cher

Remembering the artist and politician Sonny Bono on his birthday

Sonny Bono was born Salvatore Phillip Bono on February 16, 1935, in Detroit, Michigan, his father Santo Bono was an Italian immigrant. He started his career as a songwriter for artists such as Sam Cooke and went on to work with Phil Spector during the early 1960’s. One of his most famous and earliest songwriting efforts, “Needles and Pins” was co-written with Jack Nitzsche, another member of Spector’s production team. Another hit Bono co-wrote was “She Said Yeah”, covered by The Rolling Stones on their 1965 LP “December’s Children”. He rose to stardom during the mid-1960’s with his then-wife Cher in the singing duo Sonny and Cher. Bono wrote, arranged, and produced a number of hit records including the singles “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On”. Bono played a major part in Cher’s solo recording career, writing and producing singles including “Bang Bang” and “You Better Sit Down Kids”. Sonny continued to work with Cher through the early and mid-1970’s, starring in a popular television variety show, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, which ran on CBS from 1971 to 1974. From 1976 to 1977, the duo, since divorced, returned to perform together on The Sonny and Cher Show. Cher went on to become one of the best selling and biggest female actresses and singers of all time and their last appearance together was on Late Night with David Letterman on November 13, 1987, on which they sang “I Got You Babe”. Bono also had an active movie career as an actor, starring in movies and tv shows such as “Fantasy Island”, “The Love Boat”, “Hairspray” (1988), and “Men in Black” (1997). Bono entered politics after experiencing great frustration with local government bureaucracy in trying to open a restaurant in Palm Springs, California. Bono placed a successful bid to become the new mayor of Palm Springs. He served four years, from 1988 to 1992. Bono was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1994 to represent California’s 44th congressional district. He was one of twelve co-sponsors of a House bill extending copyright.He was instrumental in spearheading the creation of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which is held each year in Bono’s memory. With Cher, Sonny Bono had one child, Chaz (born Chastity), who’s now known as Chaz Bono and has recently starred on “American Horror Story”. Bono died on January 5, 1998, of injuries sustained when he hit a tree while skiing on the Nevada side of Heavenly Ski Resort near South Lake Tahoe, California.Bono’s headstone reads: “AND THE BEAT GOES ON”, written in uppercase.

Look back at Sonny & Cher performing “The Beat Goes On” in 1967

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