For Cher, the beat goes on ... and on ... and on


On a triumphant farewell tour, ageless diva Cher gets the last laugh on critics.

Ah, Cher. For 40 years she's been rolling through the pop-culture landscape like a glittery Mardi Gras float. Through the decades she's sashayed, from her days with Sonny to the winner's circle at the Oscars to her current farewell tour, which makes a stop tonight at 1st Mariner Arena and which will have played more than 125 U.S. cities by the time it ends in April.

Critics along Cher's parade route snort. She can't sing! My god, those clothes! How much plastic surgery has she had, anyway? But Cher rolls on by them, unscathed, unwrinkled, eternal, twinkling high above us all as a cultish following bows down in awe.

Here is a rough timeline of the 56-year-old California-born diva's career:

Born Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPiere in El Centro, Calif., in 1946.

At the age of 11, begins to practice signing her autograph.

At 16, meets 28-year-old Sonny Bono in a Sunset Boulevard coffee shop. He gets her a job singing backup vocals at Phil Spector's recording studios.

Scores first big hit with Sonny in 1965 with "I Got You Babe."

Sonny and Cher declared uncool in 1968 as hippies take over U.S. popular culture. S&C; glumly hit the lounge circuit.

The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour debuts in 1971 on CBS.

Divorces Sonny in 1974. Their high-rated variety show is canceled. Gets her first tattoo.

Marries musician Gregg Allman in 1975. Marriage doesn't last long.

Sonny and Cher re-team for The Sonny and Cher Show, which airs on CBS from 1976 to 1977.

Forms rock band Black Rose with boyfriend Les Dudek in 1979. Critics laugh themselves silly.

Lands an Oscar nomination for her knockout performance as a lesbian in 1983 film Silkwood. Critics stop laughing.

Doesn't like the way she looks on screen in Silkwood. Gets a nose job.

Wears That Getup With the Headdress to the 1985 Oscars. Her record for sartorial tackiness stands until Bjork's swan dress of 2001.

Wins Oscar for Best Actress for her role in 1987's Moonstruck. Critics shut up entirely.

Has a musical comeback in 1987 with top-10 album (I Found Someone) and three top-10 singles, including "If I Could Turn Back Time," for which the video features a 41-year-old Cher in see-through body stocking performing before a shipload of salivating young sailors.

Becomes an infomercial pitchwoman in 1993 for a line of hair-care products. Says buh-bye to her hard-won credibility.

Scores her biggest hit ever in 1998 with the Grammy-winning dance anthem "Believe," which is No. 1 in more than 20 countries. The song makes a 52-year-old Cher the oldest woman ever to top the pop chart and becomes the all-time top-seller by a female pop artist.

Throws a fund-raising tea party for Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate run in 2000.

Receives a career achievement award from Billboard in 2002. In her acceptance speech, says critics have been pronouncing her career dead throughout the last 40 years. "So [bleep] them," she says. "I still have a job and they don't."

First two legs of her farewell tour gross more than $70 million in 2002.

Adds a third leg to her farewell tour in 2003. Shows include disco version of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and the diva singing while riding on the back of a puppet elephant.

Cher is a cultural litmus test; depending on your point of view she is either schlock or Americana at its finest. Sure, people say Cher's singing voice is worse than the thousands of drag queens who impersonate her, but Cher had the third-highest-grossing tour of 2002 and has sold more than 25 million records.

Cher doesn't care what you think, and farewell tour or no, she isn't going away. "After the holocaust," she once said, "there will be cockroaches and Cher."

Who are we to argue with that?

COPYRIGHT; Albuquerque Journal 2003

For more on Cher, see Page 4.

The facts

What: Cher's Living Proof Farewell Tour

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St.

Admission: $55.50 and $75.50

Call: 410-481-SEAT

Web sites: or www.ticket

A Cher trivia quiz

Cher, the seemingly ageless wonder, who will turn 57 on May 20, has had her share of successes and tribulations in a multifaceted career that spans 40 years. Take a trip down memory lane with this Cher trivia quiz:

1. Before marrying Salvatore Phillip "Sonny" Bono in 1964, a teen-age Cher dated this celebrity:

A. Roman Polanski

B. Pete Townshend

C. Robert Wagner

D. Warren Beatty

2. Cher received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the movie Silkwood. What was her character's name in the movie?

A. Karen

B. Dolly

C. Thelma

D. Loretta

3. What is Cher's favorite Frank Sinatra song?

A. Somethin' Stupid

B. Witchcraft

C. The Lady Is a Tramp

D. Luck Be a Lady

4. Cher was diagnosed with which disorder at age 30?

A. Triskaidekaphobia

B. Social anxiety

C. Bulimia

D. Dyslexia

5. Cher and her second husband, Greg Allman, separated how soon after their June 1975 marriage?

A. Six months

B. Nine days

C. One year

D. Two years

6. Phil Spector produced Cher's first recorded song. What was its title?

A. You Better Sit Down Kids

B. Ringo, I Love You

C. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

D. Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves.

7. Which of these rock musicians did Cher date?

A. Gene Simmons of Kiss

B. David Paich of Toto

C. Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi

D. Les Dudek of Black Rose

8. Of Cher's 34 albums (including seven greatest-hits compilations), which was the only one to receive a rating of three stars (out of a possible five stars) from Rolling Stone magazine?

A. Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves (1971)

B. Living Proof (2002)

C. Cher (1987)

D. With Love, Cher (1967)

9. Which year did Cher win a Golden Globe award for Best TV Actress (in the musical/comedy category) for her performance in the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour?

A. 1971

B. 1972

C. 1973

D. 1974

10. Whom did Cher once say she would want with her if she was trapped in a foxhole?

A. Chastity Bono and Elijah Blue Allman

B. Martina Navratilova

C. Bill Clinton

D. Hillary Clinton

Answers: 1- D; 2-B; 3-C; 4-D; 5-B (they reconciled, then divorced in 1977); 6-B (At the time of the recording, 1964, Cher called herself Bonnie Jo Mason); 7-A, B, C and D; 8-B; 9-B (tied with Jean Stapleton of All in the Family); 10-D

This quiz was devised by free-lancer Bill Sulon.

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