I just read Ronnie Spector’s autobiography Be My Baby, a fun trashy read, and was surprised to learn that Sonny Bono got his start working in Gold Star Studios for Phil Spector. Ronnie Spector and Cher became good pals, and Cher even sang backup on “Be My Baby,” along with other Spector productions. They were both sweet young girls with possessive husbands who were going to make something out of them. But playing the dual-role of wife and protege did not make for pretty marriages; I’m sure I don’t need to detail how both marriages went south. Sonny and Cher did remain amicable through the years, in contrast to the Spector union, in which Ronnie literally escaped barefoot from Spector’s Xanadu.
Sonny met runaway Cher in L.A. in 1962. He was 27 and she was 16. Their first big hit was “I Got You Babe,” but their first single was actually a version of the Boxtops hit “The Letter,” which they recorded under the moniker Caesar & Cleo. The b-side was “Baby Don’t Go,” which charted later, riding the success of “I Got You Babe.”
I’ve always kind of fallen for songs about the kid from the wrong side of the tracks. “Baby Don’t Go” is about a girl leaving the only person who ever treated her right, her boyfriend, to go the city to escape the crappy town which has stigmatized her. There’s a really nice shimmery guitar part when Cher sings the last lines of each verse.
Here’s Sonny and Cher on Dave Letterman in 1987, where they “reunited” and sang “I Got You, Babe” one last time. There’s good stuff here about their early years, and you can really see the love they had for one another, despite their odd coupling.