January 9, 1998 in City

Score Big One For The Common Man Work, Talent Paid Off Bono Got His Start Making Meat Deliveries Along Sunset Boulevard.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Was Sonny Bono’s lightweight reputation deserved or did his political career prove the critics wrong?

Even in death, U.S. Rep. Sonny Bono can’t shake his 1970s persona as a clown prince. In fact, some still wonder what a knockout like Cher ever saw in a homely man with a bad Beatles haircut.

In a word: plenty.

Check out the songs that made Sonny & Cher famous - “The Beat Goes On,” “I Got You Babe,” “Laugh At Me.” He wrote them. Here’s a guy who parlayed a so-so voice and a flare for promotion and songwriting into 10 gold records, and five singles in the Billboard Top 100.

No dummy can do that.

Nor can a dummy run a string of successful restaurants, get elected mayor of Palm Springs by a record margin and then run successfully for the U.S. Congress. Laugh at him, if you will, but Salvatore Phillip Bono lived the American dream. He was a Horatio Alger success story.

Consider his humble beginnings. Bono broke into show business driving a meat delivery truck along Sunset Boulevard. Between deliveries, he would leave his songs with the record companies along the route. B.C. - before Cher - he penned the classic, “Needles and Pins.”

After recording a series of hit records with Cher, he retooled their act for nightclubs, developing the stage repartee that became famous television’s “The Sonny and Cher Show.” He played the straight man to her “put-downs.” The routine - along with the soft rock sound, crazy psychedelic wardrobe and a natural rapport with the young audience - kept the show near the top. But it had a downside. It sealed Sonny’s image as a buffoon.

At the time of his death, he was beginning to overcome that image. Congressional colleagues viewed him as a peacemaker, always ready with a quip or smile to ease tension in the often fractious Republican Caucus. His fund-raising abilities for fellow members was second only to that of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He was a solid conservative whose political star was on the rise.

A high school dropout, Bono was proud to be in Congress.

After introducing his first bill, he was moved to say: “These kind of things only happen in America. It is so magical that a citizen can have views and then decide to get involved, and then decide they are willing to make the effort to get elected, and then get elected, and then submit bills that you think will improve the country or contribute to the country and to society.”

Sonny Bono was Everyman triumphant.

, DataTimes MEMO: See opposing view under the headline: He won a place at the chauvinist pig trough

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

See opposing view under the headline: He won a place at the chauvinist pig trough

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board


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