Before Cher adopted her birth name on-stage, she had a brief, unsuccessful career as Bonnie Jo Mason. It was a career that lasted just one single, and peculiarly, the track was an ode to The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
The icon’s career began in 1962 when Cher left home for Los Angeles with a friend, and the move brought her into contact with Sonny Bono. During her first two years in The Golden State, her time was primarily consumed by work in bars on the Sunset Strip before Bono introduced her to the producer, Phil Spector.
The odious Spector helped Cher during these early days by bringing her into classic recordings, including The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ and The Righteous Brothers’ ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, which led to the start of her solo career.
Although she was born Cherilyn Sarkisian, initially, she performed as Cheryl LaPiere, but Spector believed that would have stopped her from being a successful artist in America. With that in mind, her debut release, ‘Ringo, I Love You’, was shared under the name of Bonnie Jo Mason. However, the track failed to pick up any steam, and radio stations decided against playing the song despite it being linked to hitmaker Spector.
Sonically, it deliberately shares textures that littered early songs by The Beatles, and it had all the hallmarks of a successful single. Additionally, it referenced ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You’ by the Fab Four.
On ‘Ringo, I Love You’, she sings: “Ringo, I love you, Yeah yeah yeah, More than anything in this world, I wanna be your girl, Please let me hold you, Ringo, they say yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll never get to hold ya tight, But still I dream of you at night, Please let me hold your hand.”
In a parallel universe, the song could have been a hit, and consequently, Cher would have forever been known as Bonnie Jo Mason. Shockingly, it didn’t gain radio play because her low vocals sounded manly, which stations worried would make listeners believe it was a homosexual love song. Despite Cher referring to herself as a girl throughout ‘Ringo, I Love You’, it still proposed a risk that radio executives desperately wanted to avoid.
Thankfully, the song flopping in the charts would turn out for the best in the long run. The following year, Cher found monumental success with Sonny, which also coincided with the release of her debut solo album that kickstarted her iconic career.