Webster’s definition of DIVA: “A celebrated female operatic singer: a prima donna
Webster’s definition of FAREWELL: “A parting salutation: a good-by. Leave-taking: Parting-closing
Do you remember where you were in the summer of 1965? I’m taking a wild guess that most of you weren’t born yet. For those of us who were, I’m not as old as you think, I was 2 years old in 1965; don’t remember the summer of 1965 either. But music historians do, and Cher fans have become well acquainted with the time. She received her first #1 record then, “All I Really Want To Do.” This was long before the beaded Bob Mackie gowns, the sold-out concert tours, the worldwide smash hits, and film awards would come much later.
Starting out in the world as Cherilyn Sarkesian LaPiere in May 1946, she grew up as a poor kid in California. She spent most of her childhood staying in an orphanage while her mother worked acting jobs in Hollywood. She was a poor student in school, often aloof and un-interested. She was not diagnosed dyslectic until she was an adult but the stars in her eyes shown early. Practicing her autograph at the age of 10, somehow knowing she would need it someday. And need it she did. She met Salvatore Bono when she was 16, he was 28. Sonny working as Phil Spector’s gopher in the mid 1960’s also had aspirations of becoming much more than he was.
They became Sonny & Cher not long after. With Sonny as the prominate songwriter and Cher as his muse, “I Got You Babe,” became the duos first #1 song. (Many people are unaware that Sonny was not part of the act – Cher was supposed to be a solo singer, but because of her stage fright, she wouldn’t go onstage without him) A handful of other tunes followed all hitting the charts. What became a hip 1960’s couple turned into a 1970’s TV SUPER couple with their hit series, “The Sonny And Cher Comedy Revue.” The show was ended by the couple as their divorce was imminent. Cher continued a year later with her own network series, “The Cher Show.”
It was a weekly variety dynamo with Cher at the helm. But it was plagued by problems. The biggest, the network sponsors who were overly concerned of her lack of clothing and her naked bellybutton. Oh my! Not even Barbra Eden in “I Dream Of Jeannie,” had a ‘naked’ bellybutton. If you watch closely, there always something covering Eden. Now, keep in mind, Cher was the original pioneer long before Madonna. She was provocative and honest, but not in a bad way. She relied more on her talent than controversy to push her career along. Before J-Lo, she was wearing barely there stage clothes, which had everyone talking the next day. Long before Demi Moore she was known for dating much younger men, apologizing to no one. Cher has always been Cher.
That’s who she is and makes no excuses. This may possibly be why people who aren’t necessarily fans of the original DIVA don’t understand her devoted following. I have been a fan of Cher’s since I was 9 years old, you do the math. I suppose psychologically speaking it was difficult to accept the concept of her ‘Farewell Tour.’ You also have to keep it in its proper perspective. Yes, it continued for 4 years, but, she never stopped at any point during the tour. Dates kept getting added. Why? Because her shows sold out in record time. She’s played many cities more than once. Why? Because of the very fact I just mentioned, and also, neither of us wanted to say ‘goodbye.’
Since Cher’s #1 smash “Believe,” (The song went to #1 in 22 countries around the world) she has garned a new audience. Go to any Cher show in the world and the audience is a mixture of grandparents, grandchildren, and everyone in between. There are those who remember and cherish the early days with Sonny. There are those that remember the 1970’s and her hits then, “Half’Breed,” “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves,” and “Dark Lady.” There are those of the disco generation who fondly recall “Take Me Home.” Then there are the rest. “If I Could Turn Back Time,” (one of the first videos MTV decided to only play after 9:00 P.M. at night because of her bare bum) “We All Sleep Alone,” and “I Found Someone.”
The films lovers are also well represented. Cher won the Academy Award for her performance in “Moonstruck;” She also has a Golden Globe to her credit, a couple of Grammy’s, etc. Cher is the only female performer who has consistently had hits in 4 consecutive decades. No one else has accomplished this, and probably never will. If you were to ask me about the performers of today and their ability to reach the same mark, I would honestly say, “I doubt any of them could or will.” What’s amazing is, she’s still going. She’s vi brant and alive, when she hits that concert stage, it is pure magic.
Her HBO concert of the “Farewell Tour,” and its subsequent DVD on Image Entertainment as been a consistent top seller, as has been the cd of the “Farewell Tour.” I have seen the FAREWELL Tour 8 times, flying to Vegas to see her at the MGM Grand for New Years 2005, and for the FINAL show at the Hollywood Bowl, April 30, 2005. And why, you ask? Simple, if this really were to be the last show, being a fan for more than half my life, I felt I needed to be there to say farewell. As it turns out Cher will be back in 2008. Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas has signed the icon to take over the reins when Celine Dion’s contract is up. She said she would no longer do a long tour, so technically this doesn’t count.
She never stated she would never perform live again. Cher will be sharing the venues stage with another Diva, Elton John. So, I think it’s safe to say, I’m heading back to Vegas. There are also film projects in the works for our girl. As well as her work with the CCA Kids Foundation (Children’s Craniofacial Association) and Operation Helmet (http://www.operation-helmet.org), an organization that helps to raise money for better helmets for our soldiers. All in all, it’s been a blast Cher. Thanks for the last 40ish years of fun. Here’s to the future and the next chapter you’re planning to write. This year Cher celebrated her 60th birthday in May. Sixty has never looked better.