Here’s another chapter from Hit Records That Had To Be Released Twice, my next book:
The name Caeser and Cleo sounds like a bad movie that ends with an asp, but it was actually the name that Sonny and Cher used when they first started making records for Reprise. They recorded several songs for the label, and a decision was made to release their remake of an old song by Mickey and Sylvia (Love Is Strange) in September 1964. Before the record was actually released, Sonny and Cher signed a new contract with Reprise using their own names and recorded the song Baby, Don’t Go. Details about the release of the two singles are sketchy, but the releases appear to have been almost simultaneous. Neither record had any success.
After those multiple failures, Sonny and Cher moved to the Atco label and started recording there, producing their career song I Got You, Babe. That jumped all the way up to #1 in July 1965.
Sonny and Cher had what can only be described as a unique look at the start, and Sonny’s long hair and unusual clothing no doubt led to confrontations with people who resisted change in the sixties. As a result, he wrote and recorded a solo protest record, Laugh At Me, that was their next single on the charts. Sonny’s protest may have been the first song with that theme that made the charts, but the topic was revisited in the future by such diverse acts as the Charlie Daniels Band (Uneasy Rider) and Bob Seeger (Turn the Page).
Atco also released Sonny and Cher’s follow up single, Just You, but that didn’t fare as well as either Sonny’s solo release or their surprise hit: Reprise rereleased Baby, Don’t Go and it hit the charts the same day that Laugh at Me did. It made it into the top ten, peaking at #8 in September, pretty good results for a record that everybody had ignored. Reissue of their other songs from the Ceaser and Cleo didn’t fare as well, but they did have a string of chart hits going forward. No doubt having their own television show off and on from 1971 to 1977 helped a bit, and Cher still continues to produce new records.