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Sonny Bono

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Salvatore Phillip “Sonny” Bono (16 February 1935 – 5 January 1998) was an American record producer, singer, actor, and politician whose career spanned over three decades.

He began his career as a songwriter, with his “Things You Do To Me” recorded by Sam Cooke and his “Needles and Pins,” co-written with Jack Nitzsche, taken to hit status by The Searchers in 1964. Hired as a “gofer” by producer Phil Spector in the early 60s, Bono picked up the tools of the producing trade.

He met Cherilyn Sarkisian in an L.A. coffee shop in 1962, when she was eleven years his junior, at the age of sixteen. Bono got her work as a background singer on some Spector productions. Bono began to write, perform and produce records with Cher under the name of “Caesar and Cleo” in ‘64 with little impact. By the end of that year, they re-titled themselves “Sonny & Cher” and had a moderate hit with “Baby Don’t Go.”

The following year, the very same named duo launched the number one hit, “I Got You Babe,” with Bono using the “Spector sound” effectively. Sonny & Cher became a regular visitor to the top 20 for the next four years. They also became husband and wife.

Two failed movie projects and a series of middling solo efforts brought Sonny & Cher’s career to a standstill, until television entered the frey. “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” debuted in 1971 and was a regular visitor to the top ten in the ratings until the couples’ divorce became final in 1975.

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