Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

Main MenuConcept Refinement The Author..Wayne JancikGolden Age Of The 50sGolden Age Of The 60s1970s and There After





Atco 6369

No. 10    September 25, 1965




They met in November 1962, in a little coffee shop on Hollywood Boulevard in L.A.   Sixteen-year-old

 Cherilyn Sarkisian La Pier was just sitting with some friends, goofing off.        Sonny, a promo man for

Philles Records, was married and had a daughter.  Their meeting that night would change their lives,

and the couple would quickly move on to influence folk-rock as well as counter cultural fashions like

hippie wear and long hair.


Salvatore Phillip Bono was born in Detroit, on February  16, 1935, the youngest of three.    Mama called

him “Sonny,” and the name struck.    His family moved to Inglewood, California when he  was seven years

old.   When he was 16, Sonny quit school to become a clerk in a grocery store.      Within a few years, he

was married to Donna Rankin and the father of Christy.      Late at night, he would practice at the piano,

scribble lyrics, and dream of pop stardom.       He worked as a waiter, assembly-line worker, butcher’s

assistant, and truck driver.


Bono started out assistmg Harold Battiste, the A & R man at Specialty Records.    “His personality was

contagious,”  Battiste told J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Cher.     “Sonny had style; man, the cat had

boundless energy and ambition.    There  were dozens and dozens of cats in Los Angeles like Sonny…  most

of whom never made it big, most of whom ended up back at the grocery store baggin’ food for old ladies.

Not this guy.”


Before long,  Sonny was song writing (“Koko Joe,” “She Said Yeah,” and “Tight Sweater”  for THE

MARATHONS) and  producing for Specialty–Wynona Carr, Don &  Dewey, Larry Williams.    In 1959,

“Wearing Black,”  Bono’s first  solo effort, was issued by the label as by Don Christy.    By then, Sonny

had left Specialty to  buy into/become involved with/set up small labels like Fidelity, Go, Name, Rush,

and Sawmi.    He issued singles as Don Christy, Sonny Christy  or Ronny Sommers.


Late in  1962–after co-writing the classic “Needles Pins” with JACK NITZSCHE–Bono was hired by Phil

Spector to be a promo man,  A & R rep, and sometime percussionist for his Philles label.    Sonny’s lanky

new girlfriend was soon doing sessions, as a back-up singer.    Bob B. Sox & The Bluejeans,  the Crystals,

Darlene Love,  the Ronettes . . . what legendary acts and tracks Spector  was recording, and what a sound!

Spector became Sonny’s idol, and he learned a lot about producing from watching Spector at work in the



With “I Got You, Babe,” written and produced by Sonny, Sonny & Cher became an overnight sensation

in 1965.     Their golden disks, on close inspection, feature  a suspiciously Spector-like  “Wall of  Sound”

technique.    Together he’she dominated the top 40 charts in 1965:  “Baby, Don’t Go,” “Just You,” “But

You’re Mine,” “What Now My Love”  They appeared in nonsensical movies–Good Times (1966) and Chastity

(1968)–had their own success CBS-TV show (1971-74) and divorced in 1974.


Sonny only recorded a few solo sides after his semiserious, partially-autobiographical “Laugh At Me”–later

reworked by MOTT THE HOOPLE, for their debut LP–charted  ([[interestingly enough, Matt the Hoople

covered the tune on their debut album).]]  There was “The Revolution Kind,” “Pammie’s On A Bummer,”

“Misty Roses,” and one LP.


The bubble burst, as all bubbles must.    Sonny went on to appear in commercials, in  “B” flicks (in

particular, the John Waters   flick Hairspray (1988), which featured Ruth Brown, Devine, Debbie Harry,

Ricki Lake, and PIA lADORA ), and on reruns of “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat.”  In 1988, Sonny

was elected mayor  of  Palm Springs, California; followed by an election to Congress in 1994.