November 8, 1994: Sonny Bono Elected to Congress

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Sonny_BonoOnly one member of the United States House of Representatives also had a #1 hit record: Salvatore Phillip “Sonny” Bono. (John Hall of Orleans scored a #5 hit in 1976 with “Still the One.”) Born in Detroit and reared in Southern California from age seven, he was a promotion man for producer Phil Spector, played percussion on recording sessions, and wrote songs recorded by The Searchers (“Needles and Pins”), Sam Cooke and The Rolling Stones.

In 1965 he penned and produced the #1 million-selling-single “I Got You Babe” that launched he and girlfriend/later wife Cher Sarkisian to stardom as Sonny & Cher. They enjoyed considerable success as a recording and performing musical act in the mid-to-late 1960s, earning nine Top 20 hits together. They later became television stars in the early 1970s with The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.

After the duo split up, Bono developed an acting career and entered electoral politics as a result of the frustrations he experienced with the city staff and regulations of Palm Springs, CA when opening a restaurant there. In 1988, Sonny ran for mayor of the city and won, serving a single term. His annual state of the city address one year was titled, yes, “The Beat Goes On.”

Related: Our feature on the duo’s big hit, “The Beat Goes On”

In 1994 Bono ran for Congress as a Republican and won the seat for California’s 44th Congressional District, focusing on such issues as extending the terms of copyrights and preserving California’s inland Salton Sea. His last public appearance with Cher was on November 13, 1987 when they performed “I Got You Babe” on Late Night with David Letterman.

On January 5, 1998, Bono died in a skiing accident at the Heavenly Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe, CA. He was 62.

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Rob Patterson

Rob Patterson began writing about music in 1976. Since his first published record review in Crawdaddy he has contributed to numerous national popular music magazines such as Creem, Musician, Circus, Spin, Request, Tower Pulse!, CD Review, Acoustic Guitar, Harp and many others along with major country music, consumer audio, musical instrument and studio recording magazines plus international publications New Musical Express and Country Music People in the U.K. From 1977 to '84 he wrote a nationally syndicated music column as well as stories for Newspaper Enterprises Association/United Feature Syndicate that ran in more than 400 daily newspapers across the nation. His work has also appeared in many weekly newspapers, onlinepublications like and The Huffington Post, such books as the Rolling Stone Record Guide & Revised Record Guide, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History and The Year In Rock, 1980-81, plus liner notes for 20 album releases.
Rob Patterson
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