Cher: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facts
Eligible Since: Sonny & Cher 1990, Cher solo 1991
Grammy Awards/Nominations: Sonny & Cher 0/2, Cher solo 1/5
Career Top 40 Hits: Sonny & Cher 11, Cher solo 22
Sonny & Cher: Baby Don’t Go, I Got You Babe, But You’re Mine, Little Man, The Beat Goes On, All I Ever Need is You
Cher solo: All I Really Want To Do, Bang Bang, Gypsys Tramps & Thieves, Half-Breed, Dark Lady, Take Me Home, I Found Someone, We All Sleep Alone, After All, If I Could Turn Back Time, The Shoop Shoop Song, Believe, Song for the Lonely
Sonny & Cher: Look at Us (1965), All I Ever Need is You (1972)
Cher solo: All I Really Want To Do (1965), Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves (1971), Cher (1987), Heart of Stone (1989), Believe (1998)
Cherilyn Sarkisian has been an icon for six decades. Cher rose to fame with her husband Sonny in the mid 1960s, then branched off into a massive solo career that demonstrated remarkable longevity. She first reached the Top 20 as a solo act with “All I Really Want To Do” in 1965, and was still breaking records in 1997, when “Believe” made her the oldest woman ever to score a #1 single.
For some reason, neither Cher nor Sonny & Cher have received serious consideration for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Might that change in the near future?
Let’s examine whether Cher might finally take her place in the Rock Hall, and whether it will be as a solo artist or as a duo with Sonny.
Cher’s Rock Hall Credentials
Sonny & Cher recorded a number of hits that remain classics, most notably “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe.”
They released only five albums together, but scored 20 chart entries, including nine which reached the Top 20. And they hosted a variety show for several years, which put them right at the forefront of popular culture.
Critics view some of their songs as lightweight or fluff, but they resonated with audiences. Cher herself makes the best argument for the duo’s importance.
She told Entertainment Weekly in 2010, “Sonny and I still aren’t in the Hall of Fame, and it just seems kind of rude. Sonny was a good writer, and we started something that no one else was doing. We were weird hippies before there was a name for it, when the Beatles were wearing sweet little haircuts and round-collared suits…. We influenced a generation, and it’s like: What more do you want?”
Meanwhile, Cher began her solo career with numerous hits, including chart-toppers “Dark Lady” and “Half-Breed,” plus “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” and “Bang Bang.”
In the late ’70s, she transitioned to disco with another big hit, “Take Me Home.” In the late ’80s, after years of acting success and a Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck, Cher returned to music and became more of a hard rocker, with her self-titled comeback album and its hits “I Found Someone” and the underrated, Desmond-Child penned “We All Sleep Alone.”
“If I Could Turn Back Time” remains one of her most enduring songs, with its infectious melody and absolutely iconic music video. Who can forget Cher straddling cannons on a Navy battleship and wearing fishnet stockings and a revealing outfit that just barely covered anything?
Few others would have considered wearing something like that, but Cher boldly went for it. Her willingness to push boundaries was always a big part of her appeal.
When Cher had just about disappeared from the spotlight in the mid-90s, she re-emerged with the biggest hit of her career, the dance-floor anthem “Believe.”
That song broke new ground with its innovative use of Auto-Tune, accenting some of Cher’s vocals with a robotic effect that blew away listeners. That technology would greatly influence the worlds of pop and hip hop music for decades afterwards.
Interestingly, the record company wanted to remove the vocal effect. They thought it was too unusual for a mainstream pop song.
Cher had to fight to keep it, telling her label boss that the Auto-Tune would be removed “over my dead body,” and jokingly threatening her producer, “Don’t let anyone touch this track, or I’m going to rip your throat out.”’ That’s the power move of a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer right there.
Cher is almost an EGOT – she’s won an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Oscar (plus a Golden Globe.) She’s missing a Tony, but she has received the Kennedy Center Honor – and that’s much bigger than a Tony!
She just kept coming back when people thought her career was dead. There’s a reason people used to joke that the only things to survive a nuclear holocaust would be cockroaches and Cher.
Cher was also a terrific live performer, as evidenced by her Farewell Tour that seemed to never end, because fans kept coming and she kept adding dates.
One of the more impressive moments in the Cher live show came when she transformed “Bang Bang” into a hard rock scorcher with heavy metal guitars. No one can say she’s not “rock” enough for the Hall after a performance like this.
Over the years, Cher adapted from hippie pop to dance and disco to hard rock. She even went old-school ’60s girl group style on “The Shoop Shoop Song.” Her ability to connect with multiple generations is part of her legacy.
With all of her hit singles, her iconic persona, her boldness, and her lasting influence, Cher has a great case for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Case Against Cher
Some voters may feel that neither Sonny & Cher nor Cher as a solo artist meet the “musical excellence” criteria. But their commercial success and the lasting influence of their music should put that claim to rest.
The biggest challenge for Cher earning Rock Hall induction is simply deciding how she should be recognized. Some voters may prefer her as a solo act, while others may prefer her work with Sonny. That could result in her not getting enough support either way.
Many artists have been inducted into the Rock Hall twice. But they usually have to wait many years between those inductions.
Tina Turner, for instance, earned induction with Ike Turner in 1991, and again as a solo artist three decades later in 2021. Stevie Nicks went in with Fleetwood Mac in 1998 and solo in 2019.
In Cher’s case, it’s not clear whether she should be inducted first with Sonny, or as a solo performer. There are strong cases to be made for both. That’s something the Rock Hall would need to iron out first, before they can consider inducting her.
If the Hall inducts Cher as a solo act, people may question why they’re overlooking the contributions of Sonny Bono, who helped launch her career, wrote many of their songs, and worked to secure film projects and other opportunities that increased their public profile.
If the Hall inducts Sonny & Cher together, people may question why they felt it necessary to include Sonny as part of the induction, given that Cher had a much lengthier and more commercially successful career than the duo. Remember, the Hall has had chronic issues with overlooking female performers over the years, so some may find it a bit suspicious if a worthy solo female artist like Cher can only earn induction when a man is included as part of the honor.
It’s a bit of a conundrum for the Rock Hall – and in any case, they haven’t yet shown any inkling that they’re interested in Cher at all.
The Verdict: Will Cher and/or Sonny Bono Ever Get Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Cher’s solo work did feature a hard-rock edge in some of her ’80s hits, but these days, people think of her more as a dance act, and those have a harder time getting recognized by the Hall.
Since Cher herself has been speaking out in support of the couple’s induction, you’d think the Hall will follow her lead and consider Sonny & Cher first, and then Cher solo after that.
But there hasn’t been much chatter about inducting the duo, so it seems perhaps more likely that Cher will be considered solo. Hopefully she’ll get in within the next few years.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters should not make the same mistake they made with Donna Summer. Do not wait until the artist passes away, which causes a public outcry and results in the artist getting inducted the very next year, after they’re no longer around to see it.
Induct Cher (with or without Sonny) while she’s still with us. She’s still fashionable and oozing with star power. Look at how she showed up to the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. Who wouldn’t want to see Cher at an induction ceremony?
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Sonny & Cher
Odds of Getting Inducted Next Year: 5%
Odds of Getting Inducted in the Next Five Years: 10%
Odds of Getting Inducted Eventually: 40%
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Cher solo
Odds of Getting Inducted Next Year: 10%
Odds of Getting Inducted in the Next Five Years: 25%
Odds of Getting Inducted Eventually: 60%
Do you think Sonny & Cher (or Cher solo) will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday? Leave a comment and let us know!
Last Updated on October 20, 2023