Friday, December 13, 2013

Review: 'Cher: Strong Enough' by Josiah Howard

'Cher: Strong Enough' by Josiah HowardA review of new Cher biography 'Strong Enough' by Josiah Howard.

Despite it being named after her 1999 million-selling hit, paperback biography 'Cher: Strong Enough' almost-exclusively focuses on the era of Cher's self-titled CBS variety show. The daring TV show ran from 1975-1976, and so the book, with its 250+ pages, goes into great detail about this largely-undocumented time of Cher's life. And it doesn't just cover Cher's professional life of that time but also her personal life.

It grabs you from the get-go, with the introduction reading, "In the shadow of her fantastic solo success, and in the short period of just 12 months, Cher appeared in front of a grand jury to testify in a murder case, formally ended her two-year romantic (and business) relationship with music mogul David Geffen, finalized her divorce action against Sonny Bono, whom she charged with 'involuntary servitude' and violation of the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery, dealt with Sonny's $24-million counter lawsuit that charged 'breach of contract' (as well as a custody battle for their daughter Chastity),

 "... married, filed for divorce (nine days later), and reconciled with rock giant Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band, responded to her father John Sarkisian's $4-million "invasion of privacy" lawsuit, released the most fully realized (but almost totally overlooked) album of her entire career - the Jimmy Webb-produced 'Stars' - made a 'nude' appearance on the cover of Time magazine which resulted in the publication being categorized as 'pornographic' and pulled from newsstands in Florida, delayed taping of her series for two weeks - until sweeping behind-the-scenes changes were made - and negotiated an amicable, yet short-lived TV reunion with Sonny Bono - while pregnant with Gregg Allman's baby!"

The first eight chapters cover Cher's childhood, Sonny & Cher's ' 1960's superstardom, 'The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour', Sonny's flop solo 'The Sonny Comedy Revue' and everything in-between. Chapters 9 - 28 is an extraordinarily detailed account of her 'Cher' show era. The book's lengthy epilogue reaches late-2012.

The biography contains over 60 photographs from the 'Cher' era - mostly rarities, including many of her on-set sharing the stage with the likes of Elton John, Bette Midler, Carol Burnett, Raquel Welch, Ray Charles, Tina Turner and David Bowie. There are even photos of un-aired scenes showing Bill Cosby and The Spinners. Of course, most of the photos feature Cher in dazzling Bob Mackie creations.

The back pages of the book provide, among other things, an episode guide for all 29 episodes of the 'Cher' show - which is yet to be released on DVD - including guest stars, and highly interesting notes, such as un-aired segments.

The book contains on-set interviews with Cher and her television series' creators, as well as many of the program's big-name guest stars and will teach even the most die-hard Cher fans a thing or two.

This is definitely one for the ardent Cher fans, Sonny fans and television fans. It's just a shame that there isn't a brilliant biography like this for every era of Cher's outstandingly-long career.

Author Josiah Howard began his association with Cher back in 2008, when he was commissioned - by Cher's own management - to write a summation of her career. Cher as delighted with the result and for the entirety of her wildly popular three-year residency at Caesars palace, she opted to use his writing within her program. The same piece can still be read on her official Facebook and Twitter pages.

Short share:
  • On Billboard's year-end charts: 'Closer To The Truth' ranked at #121 on the Billboard 200, #118 on Current Albums and #4 on Internet Albums; 'Woman's World' ranked at #58 on Dance/Electronic Songs and #46 on Dance Club Songs; and Cher ranked #5 on Internet Artists.


  1. Hi Daniel, what exactly is Internet Albums? Based on downloads all over the world? Thanks for great up-dates!

  2. The Billboard Internet Album Chart tracks sales of physical CDs via the internet. For example many stores in the US have not stocked Closer to the Truth very well so many fans have bought CTTT by ordering it on the internet. Stores like FYE, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Barnes & Noble all sell CDs over the internet. All of this is tracked. Younger artists sell less physical CDs and much more digital downloads. Older artists like Cher sell far less downloads but do well selling old style physical CDs and because many stores did not stock well many fans bought CTTT via the internet. It is still setting well going into week 12. Right now the USA charts are full of Christmas CDs and CDs for other artists like Gaga that are selling super cheap. I saw Gaga's CD in a store on sale for $6.00 and Elton for $7.00. Chere is always close to full price. The cheapest I have seen it was $11.99 for the non-delux but it is usually at least $14.99.

  3. Ok thanks Lisa, so being #4 on that chart you could say is closer to the truth ;-)

  4. Yup, it shows Cher Sells lots of PHYSICAL cds. She like most older artists does not sell a lot of downloads. Cher fans want physical CDs. Since many stores do not stock Cher stuff very well, fans buy CTTT off the internet sites.

    All Cher fans need to buy this book. the cover is gorgeous! It represents Cher so well in that TV era. God I wish the CHER Show was on DVD officially. Those shows were unreal!!!!!!!!

  5. Great review! I agree there should be a book like this for the S&C shows too, another for her albums and another one for her movies, something like these books that came out in the 80s/90s on movie icons like Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn: