Cher is a master of reinvention whose only constant is her fiercely independent spirit. Born Cherilyn Sarkisian in 1946, she dropped out of school and relocated to Los Angeles when she was 16, meeting songwriter/producer Sonny Bono shortly after her arrival. As Sonny & Cher, they released smash singles including the lightly baroque “I Got You Babe” and the driving “The Beat Goes On,” and she also hit big with solo singles like “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and “Alfie.” The pair became TV hosts in the early ’70s, and Cher continued to put out solo records that were pop dynamite: “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “Half-Breed,” “Dark Lady.” She later plunged headfirst into disco with Take Me Home and tried rock on for size with the band Black Rose. Cher then took a break from music, returning in 1987 for the rock-tinged Cher and continuing down that path with 1989’s Heart of Stone, which included the anthemic “If I Could Turn Back Time.” A year later, her kitschy cover of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” accompanied her lead role in the ’60s throwback Mermaids. Cher continued releasing albums and headlining Vegas residencies, with the worldwide No. 1 title track from her 1998 album Believe helping define that decade’s electro-pop, her 2003 jam “Song for the Lonely” building on that legacy, and her role in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again showing that she could take on pop confections as heralded as ABBA’s. Her forceful alto and no-nonsense personality helped make her one of the 20th century’s biggest pop icons—and she’s holding on to that title as the 21st century’s beat goes on.
HOMETOWNEl Centro, CA
BORNMay 20, 1946