Tuesday, July 02, 2013

July 1963 - July 2013: 'Cher News' Celebrates The 50th Anniversary Of Cher In The Music Biz!

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Cher's place in the music business.

Way back in July 1963, a black-haired 17-year-old girl called Cherilyn - and nicknamed Cher - set foot behind a microphone in Phil Spector's now-iconic Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood to sing back-up alongside members of The Blossoms and The Ronettes on 'Be My baby' by the latter group. Also on backing vocals was Sonny Bono - Cher's boyfriend at the time who had began his recording career the decade before and was already a backing singer for Spector.

It was the first time that Cher sang professionally - and what a way to begin! 'Be My Baby' remains one of the greatest and best-remembered songs of the 1960's and is sometimes labelled as the greatest girl-group song of all-time! In her 1998 autobiography 'The First Time', Cher spoke of her first moments in the music "biz":

Cher at Gold Star
Recording Studios
"...One day Darlene Love's car broke down, and she was late to a session to sing 'Be My Baby' for The Ronettes. Everybody was standing around the microphone, waiting. Finally, Phil said, 'Let's just start.' And he looked over at me and said, 'Sonny says that you can sing.'

I wanted to do it but I was scared. I started to explain to him that even though I wasn't a professional, I felt I had promise. I could feel my heart pounding. 'Look I don't care,' Phillip said. 'I just need some noise. Get out there.' Son said, 'Don't be nervous, just do what the rest of us are doing.'

I'd never been in front of a microphone before, but I went out there, quaking and shaking, and stood next to Son. I was terrible with harmonies, so I just doubled Son's part. I was terrified, right up until the end of the song.

Actually, it got worse near the end, because I knew that Phillip like to follow a take by asking everybody to sing their parts, one at a time: 'Fanita [James], what are you singing? Gracia [Nitzche], what are you singing?' I thought, If he asks me what I'm singing, I'm gonna die on the spot, because I have no idea what I'm singing. But he never asked me, thank God!

After it was over, I was beside myself; this was the real thing, I'd never been in front of a real microphone, singing with professionals, and I wouldn't shut up all the way home; I drove Son nuts that night, 'I wonder if he'll ask me to do it again. Oh, no, of course he won't but he might. What do you think he'll do Son? When Darlene comes back, he won't ask me. I really liked it. Do you think he'll ask me to do it again, Son, or...?'

Darlene Love, Phil Spector and
Cher at Gold Star Recording Studios
Son groaned, 'God, Cher, I don't know if he's gonna ask you to do it again. Calm down before you drive yourself - and me - crazy!' And, of course, he did. He called me and Son his 'funk', and for more than a year he never recorded anything without us singing backup."

The Ronettes with Phil Spector
at Gold Star Recording Studios
'Be My Baby' was released in August - being the first single, as well as song, ever to feature Cher's voice. With a great lead delivery by Ronnie Spector, it reached the US Hot 100 in September - similarly being the first time that a song with Cher's vocals had reached the charts. It eventually peaked at number 2 with a number 4 peak in the UK.

Cher went on to sing back-up vocals on all of Phil Spector's following singles, with Sonny, until 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'' by The Righteous Brothers in March 1965 - months before Sonny and Cher scored big hits of their own. And of course, we all know where the story goes from there...

1 comment:

  1. Everyone makes 1965 and the #1 of I Got You Babe as Cher's start but YOU are right. Cher met Sonny and got together with him in 1962 and by 1963 they were recording with Phil Spector's Wall of Sound as back-up singers then as Caesar & Cleo in 1963 and in 1964 as well, then Cher recorded solo in 1964 as Bonnie Jo Mason then as Cherilyn. 1963 and 1964 were working years for them laying the groundwork for 1965. 1965 is when they became stars but 1963 and 1964 were the years a teen-age Cher paid her dues.