MORE than half a century since she and Sonny captured the music world, the incredible Cher is still looking amazing and pulling in vast crowds to her live performances.
Time to stop? Not a chance! She is as excited about the future as she was when she made her first recording all those years ago.
This from a lady who’ll be 72 in May, but still dons glamorous and revealing stage costumes that cast off at least 40 years when she’s in front of an audience.
“I hope people like what they see,” she grins.
“Bob Mackie has designed my costumes for years, and we are good friends. He knows me and how I want to express myself.
“I like what I wear to be fun, interesting and hopefully breathtaking, just like the stage sets. I like to dress up and maybe show off a little.
“I’m going to be who I am.
“I don’t care if critics don’t like how I dress. I’m there for the audience, and I hope it makes them happy.”
Cher has come a long way since those amazing early days of the 1960s.
“Life was a bit of a whirlwind in those days and I guess it still is really,” she says.
“Imagine, there I was at 16 and I wanted to be an actress.
“My mother had done her best for us and did some acting work herself, but life was never great. We were always short of money.
“I can remember even having to fix my shoes with elastic bands because they were falling apart.
“That wasn’t my mum’s fault, but I left home and moved in with a friend in LA.
“I had to earn money so I took gigs dancing at small clubs on Sunset Strip in Hollywood. I took advantage of being around and met as many people as I could who were involved in Hollywood.
“Sonny was working for Phil Spector when we met in the late part of 1962. He asked me if I would like to be his housekeeper and, since my friend had moved out of our place, I accepted.
“He was great because he introduced me to Phil, who gave me work as a backing singer with people like The Walker Brothers and The Ronettes. They tried me with my own single but it didn’t do anything much.
“Sonny still thought I should pursue a solo career and, of course, we became close and eventually husband and wife.
“Being a solo singer really frightened me,” she admits.
“I was scared of being on my own in front of a live audience so I convinced Sonny to record and perform with me. We were Caesar and Cleopatra for a while but we didn’t find ourselves in demand.
“Sonny produced some single recordings for me and it started to get better. I still wanted us to sing together, though, and eventually I Got You Babe came along. Not much happened in the States, but we met The Rolling Stones, who assured us we’d get a great reception in Britain.
“We weren’t sure what to do.
“In the States, they didn’t much like us, partly because they didn’t like the way we looked. We used to get thrown out of places because they didn’t like the way we dressed.
“We really struggled. We also met and became friends with Jack Good, the producer of a TV show called Shindig!. Our look stopped us getting on the show but Jack also told us that we should go to Britain because they would love us there.
“So, we gave it a try — and suddenly everything changed.
“I Got You Babe charted and we were made very welcome.
“I didn’t like the song at first!” Cher confesses. “But maybe that was because Sonny woke me up in the middle of the night, got me to stand next to the piano in our living room and try it. I didn’t believe it. I said that I would sing it once and then I was going back to bed!
“When it hit the charts, we were completely stunned and thrilled at the same time. This was everything we had been working for and struggling for.
“In Britain, they loved us and we loved them right back.
“Back in America, a lot of our previous stuff was suddenly getting air plays and charting. We thought it was really funny that when we returned to the USA, a lot of people thought we were English! Happy days!”
The happy days have remained ever since, although Cher has had her downs as well as many memorable moments.
“You cannot go through life without getting hurt or suffering some kind of health problem,” she says simply.
“I have had several of both but, you know, you can always bounce back and, when you do, you get such a great sense of achievement.
“I always thank Sonny for giving me a great work ethic. He never stopped and was always so enthusiastic about everything. He was a positive thinker, and that kind of rubbed off on me.
“I have had some great times in the past, but I am always looking ahead to the next challenge.
“I always wanted to be an actress first and maybe a singer second and possibly even a dancer third. People can put me in any category they like, I don’t mind. I have done all of those things and I am still doing them so I am happy.
“Being resident in Las Vegas has been fantastic. The shows are spectacular and every time I go on stage, I pinch myself that it is not just a dream. The audience reaction is great and I never tire of performing there.
“There is more to come but I don’t want to slip into a graceful retirement in Las Vegas. I want to be out there on a world tour to meet as many people as possible.
“I want to do both at the same time — stay in Las Vegas and be out there on the road taking the show all over the world.”
No wonder Cher is so excited by 2018, but there is even more to come, as her Broadway show opens, as well as her role in the new Mamma Mia! film.
“Here We Go Again! is the name of the new Mamma Mia! movie, and that could almost be the title of my own show,” she laughs.
“A trial run of The Cher Show is due to open in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre, and will play there before opening around September at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway. The show is my life story with lots of songs, including the hits.
“I can’t believe this is really happening. My life as a musical on Broadway just seems totally crazy, but it is really exciting.
“Perhaps that sums up my life — crazy and exciting. And bizarre. That’s probably how my life seems to most people.”
Although Cher is always looking ahead she still likes to give audiences what they want.
“They like to hear their favourite songs,” she explains. “That’s OK because some of them are my favourite songs too, so why not share them?
“There’s always a place for I Got You Babe, which means so much to me. There’s always a place for Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves, which was my first No 1 solo number and just rocks when we do it on stage.
“My own favourite is usually in too — All I Really Want To Do.
“I love that song, because when I let myself think back a little, then look at what I am still doing in 2018, it’s all I really wanted to do.”
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