Whether it’s as the prettier half of the Sonny and Cher duo or as a solo artist, Cher definitely belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Yes, she is rock. There is often a dispute or debate over who is rock and roll and who isn’t. Sonny and Cher started as a folk-rock duo and Sonny worked for and was heavily influenced by Phil Spector and his “Wall of Sound.” And, yes, when you sing numbers like “Mama Was A Rock and Roll Singer, Papa Used To Write All Her Songs,” and describe yourself as a “serious rock and roller,” as Cher has done, then you are certainly working in the rock and roll field.
Great success and achievements. When you consider the very definition of a larger-than-life “rock star,” Cher fits the bill. While still a teenager, she rose to the top of the “Billboard” singles chart with “I Got You Babe,” which stayed number one for three weeks in 1965. Capitalizing on the success of her early 1970s television variety series, “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” Cher was able to promote her records to a larger audience. This led to three more number one smashes, “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “Half-Breed,” and “Dark Lady,” in 1971, 1973 and 1974, respectively. These storytelling songs ranged in subject matter from unplanned pregnancies to racism to fortune-telling, adultery and murder. Cher arrived at number one again for four weeks in 1999 with her biggest seller, “Believe,” a dance tune that sold over 11 million copies worldwide and showed Cher’s versatility. Cher also had a couple number one adult contemporary hits, “After All,” a duet with Peter Cetera in 1989, and “If I Could Turn Back Time,” also in 1989. The Sonny and Cher duo had 11 top 40 singles and six top 10 hits between 1965 and 1972, according to “The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits.” Cher added 12 more top 10 hits as a solo artist between 1965 and 1999. The “Goddess of Pop” has also been a top nightclub act in Las Vegas. And of course she became accomplished on Broadway and an Academy Award winning actress.
A voice that stands out. Throughout her career Cher’s voice has been a unique treasure, so distinctive that you always know when she is singing. Was there ever a voice that stood out more than hers?
Rock and roll lifestyle. Cher certainly lived the rock and roll lifestyle, marrying rock artist Gregg Allman just two days after her divorce from Sonny was final. After her stormy marriage to Allman ended (she first filed for divorce only nine days after their wedding day, although she remained in the marriage for a while), Cher was romantically linked to Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss and to Les Dudek, a rock musician with whom she formed a band called Black Rose. Cher went from a “hippie” fashion sense of striped bell-bottoms, garish shirts and unisex vests of the mid-1960s to being a sophisticated fashion trendsetter who wore spectacular gowns on her TV show in the 70s.
Wonderful other songs. In addition to all her number one songs, Cher released some lesser-known hits that were fantastic efforts. Perhaps the best song she ever recorded with Sonny was “Little Man,” a Latin-flavored tune that was a modest hit in 1966. Another excellent song they did together was “Baby Don’t Go, “a top ten hit in 1965. Cher also did a marvelous cover of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss),” a film soundtrack song that topped the United Kingdom singles chart and showed that Cher had a good grasp of the girl-group sound. She had once been a background singer for Phil Spector groups like the Ronettes. She also could sing rock ballads well, as she demonstrated with “I Found Someone,” a top 10 hit from 1988.
Cher is “rock enough.” Given that Cher is such a megastar, the only thing that probably keeps her out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is she is too often dismissed as not being “rock enough.” It is the same criticism Madonna had to overcome and that hindered Donna Summer’s election. Both of those talented ladies eventually were elected. Hopefully more voters for the Hall will understand that Cher is in fact “rock enough” and that her grand achievements warrant her election to the Hall.
“The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, 5th Edition,” Fred Bronson, Billboard Books, 2003
“The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 9th Edition,” Joel Whitburn, Billboard Books, 2010