The two of them sang background vocals on numerous Spector-produced classics between 1963 and '64, beginning with The Ronette's 'Be My Baby' and ending with 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling' by The Righteous Brothers.
Meanwhile, Sonny and Cher became romantically-linked and emerged as a musical duo under the name "Caesar and Cleo", playing gigs and releasing single 'The Letter' in February 1964. A month later, Cher released solo single 'Ringo, I Love You' under the pseudonym Bonnie Jo mason. Both singles failed to stir much interest.
In September, Caesar & Cleo released another overlooked single - a cover of Mickey & Sylvia's 'Love Is Strange'. Almost simultaneously - and with a name change to "Sonny & Cher" - they released 'Baby Don't Go', which reached Billboard's 'Bubbling Under' chart. Cher's late-1964 'Dream Baby' (as "Cherilyn") and the duo's April 1965 Just You' were both minor airplay hits in California..
July saw Cher's cover of Bob Dylan's 'All I Really Want To Do' enter Billboard's Hot 100 - becoming her first hit record. A trip to England that same month saw the duo get turned away from the London Hilton hotel, reportedly for their hippie image. The evidently-newsworthy fiasco was captured by photographers and sparked a national interest in the duo. London radio stations discovered the duo's latest recording 'I Got You Babe and gave it airplay. It reached #1 in the UK for two weeks and went on to rule for three weeks in the US, where it also reached #19 on the R&B Singles chart. It has sold around 3 million copies worldwide.
Cher's 'All I Really Want To Do' rose to #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 US#20 'Just You'. With the addition of Sonny's solo 'Laugh At Me' (US#10, UK#9, Canada#1), the overnight sensations had an impressive five hits on the US Hot 100 chart simultaneously.
The duo's 3 million-selling Gold-certified debut album 'Look At Us' spent a staggering eight weeks at #2 on the Billboard 200, plus reached #7 in the UK. It hit #3 in Australia where (Belgium #1) single 'Sing C'est La Vie' hit #2. Cher's million-selling debut album 'All I Really Want To Do', fueled solely by the title track, reached #7 in the UK and #16 in the US (where it spent 6 months on the chart). A compilation album featuring songs by "Sonny & Cher and Friends" titled 'Baby Don't Go' reached #69 in the US.
Sonny was writing, producing and arranging the majority of their material - most of which was folk-rock. Cher was 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.
September saw the couple appear on some of the biggest television shows in America, such as 'Where The Action Is', 'Hullabaloo' and 'The Ed Sullivan Show'. On the latter show - on which the host pronounced Cher's name incorrectly (like "Chur") - Cher performed new 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 song 'What Now My Love' as their new single, which showcased that Cher's deep voice was certainly powerful enough to fit comfortably alongside the 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 & Cher', which reached #34 on the US Billboard 200 when released in April and #15 in the UK.
'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 winner Tom Jones.
Sonny & Cher embarked on their 'The Wondrous World Tour'. In September, 'Little Man' was released, becoming a million-selling European smash-hit for the duo though it only reached #21 in the US. It hit #4 in the UK, where they performed it on 'Top Of The Pops'.
Cher's third album 'Cher' 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 hits 'Sunny' (Bobby Hebb cover, #32 - and a #2 hit in multiple European countries) and 'I Feel Something In The Air' (about unwanted pregnancy, #42), as well as the US#32 hit 'Alfie' (played on the closing credits of that year's hit Michael Caine-starring movie 'Alfie').
In 1967, 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. The same month, they took part in the San Remo song festival but failed to reach the finals. 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.
"It's a good thing that we were so entertained by each other because we were constantly together."
Despite the inclusion of the aforementioned hit, Sonny & Cher's March album 'In Case You're in Love' only peaked at #45 on the US Billboard 200. It didn't chart in the UK at all. That month, they also appeared in acting roles on an episode of NBC's TV series 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'. The following month, 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 un-enthusiasm about the project. Directed by William Friedkin and co-starring George Sanders, the movie was titled 'Good Times' and released in April 1967. It premiered in Austin, Texas – where the movie did well. However, elsewhere, it was a commercial – and critical – failure. The following month, they released the soundtrack album to the film, which charted at #73 in the US. In the following months, they released the singles 'Plastic Man' (US#74 - and notably #49 in France) and taken from the soundtrack album, 'It's The Little Things' (US#50).
Sonny & Cher released their first greatest hits package in August, 'The Best of Sonny & Chér'. The album was a success, reaching #23 on the US Billboard 200, where 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, Cher' (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, 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."
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 record-buying public whom had turned on to acid rock as part of the in-full-swing drug culture. In a bid to recover their career, Sonny thought up plans to write and produce a film for Cher to star in, titled 'Chastity'; he placed all of the duo's savings into making the movie. During the film's production, Cher announced that she was pregnant.
Hair color: brown
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 not to 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 only reached #195 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
In February 1969, Cher's stand-alone single 'Yours Until Tomorrow' failed to chart. On 4 March, Cher (whom had experienced four miscarriages) and Sonny had a daughter; they named her Chastity Sun Bono after their new film. Shortly afterwards, Sonny and Cher got married. Their relationship was moving forward but their career seemed to be nearing its end; the film opened in theaters on 24 June 1969 to mixed reviews but was a Box Office failure. Its predominantly-instrumental soundtrack album of the same name didn't chart and contained the Cher track 'Chastity's Song (Bands Of Thieves)' which became a flop single.
Cher - who has begun to grow out her 1960's trademark bangs/fringe - also released a 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', 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).
Sonny & Cher had hit hard times. They were in massive debt, and had to perform shows at nightclubs. By no choice of their own, Sonny & Cher had to reinvent themselves for the nightclub circuit. Sonny was required to wear tuxedo's, Cher was required to wear evening dresses. Steadily, and accidentally, they incorporated humor into their act.
The changes were a success and audience numbers grew steadily thanks to positive word-of-mouth. Before too long, requests came in for the duo to do guest spots on television shows. They even fronted their own one-off variety hour, 'The Sonny & Cher Nitty Gritty Hour' in 1970. Although their recording career was still at a low, with a pre-Carpenters 'Superstar' and 'Classified 1A' not reaching the US Hot 100 for Cher and 'Get It Together' and 'Real People' missing out for the duo, the duo were given their own television series.
In September, as their variety show was closing its run on television, Sonny & Cher revived their music career - having swapped their folk-rock beginnings for adult contemporary material. They released the album 'Sonny and Cher Live'. It 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', reached the #1 spot on the US Hot 100 and enjoyed 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 titled 'Chér' then 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 huband-and-wife's October single, 'All I Ever Need Is You', became their second transatlantic top 10 single, reaching #7 in the US and #8 in the UK. It sold over a million copies.
Due to the high ratings of the summer series, their variety show 'The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour' returned as a regular series in late-December. It drew 30 million viewers per week.
Early 1972 provided more success for the pair. Cher's ballad 'The Way Of Love' reached #7 on the US Hot 100. 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 it sold a million copies worldwide. Their new 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, 'Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves' was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and '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.