American recording artist and producer Salvatore Phillip “Sonny” Bono was born on this day, February 16, 1935 in Detroit. Sonny worked for record producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s as a promotion man, percussionist and “gofer” at Specialty Records where his song “Things You Do to Me” was recorded by Sam Cooke.
Later in the same decade, he achieved commercial success, along with his then-second wife Cher, as part of the singing duo Sonny and Cher. Bono wrote, arranged, and produced a number of hit records with singles like “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On”, although Cher received more attention as a performer. He also played a major part in Cher’s early solo career with recordings such as “Bang Bang” and “You Better Sit Down Kids”.
Through the early and mid-1970s Sonny continued to work with Cher starring in a popular television variety show, The Sonny and Cher Show, which ran on CBS from 1971 to 1974. From 1976 to 1977, the couple returned to performing together on The Sonny and Cher Show despite being divorced. Their last appearance together was on Late Night with David Letterman on November 13, 1987,when they sang “I Got You Babe”.
From 1988 to 1992, Bono was also mayor of Palm Springs, California, and congressman for California’s 44th district from 1995 until his death in 1998.
The United States Federal Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended the term of copyright by 20 years, is now commonly known as the Sonny Bono Act.
He was awarded a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Fame on May 18, 1996 and posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television at 7020 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on May 15, 1998.
See which other members of Michigan’s film industry have a birthday today.