1946-1959: Early lifeEdit
Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California, on May 20, 1946. Her father, John Paul Sarkisian, was Armenian American and worked as a truck driver. Her mother, Georgia Holt (born Jackie Jean Crouch in Sharp County, Arkansas on June 9, 1927), an aspiring actress and occasional model, is of Cherokee, English, French, German, and Dutch descent. Cher's half sister is actress Georganne LaPiere. Cher's parents divorced and she was raised primarily by her mother, who at one time was married to Gilbert Hartmann LaPiere (1923–2012), a banker who adopted Cher. Due to financial problems, Cher's mother temporarily placed her in foster care. Later, her mother provided money for acting lessons to help further her career. Due to severe, undiagnosed dyslecia, she left Fresno High School at age 16. In those years, Cher had a brief relationship with actor Warren Beatty.
1960-1969: Sonny & CherEdit
Sonny Bono, 11 years her senior, was working for record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. Sonny and Cher became inseparable friends, eventual lovers, and later married. Through Sonny, Cher started as a session singer in 1963, and sang backup on several of Spector's classic recordings, including The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", Darlene Love's "A Fine, Fine Boy", The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and The Ronettes' "Be My Baby". In the composition by Darlene Love, the listener can clearly hear Cher and Sonny close to the microphone (along with Love, who recorded her own backing vocals). Her first solo recording was the unsuccessful single "Ringo, I Love You", released under the pseudonym of Bonnie Jo Mason and produced by Phil Spector. Her second attempt was "Dream Baby", released under the name "Cherilyn" and written and produced by Sonny Bono. Both were released in 1964. With Sonny continuing to write, arrange and produce the songs, Sonny and Cher's first incarnation was as the duo "Caesar and Cleo". They received little attention, despite releasing the single "The Letter" in late 1964.