Cher and Mick Jagger are not two figures that are easily connected. One is a throaty middle of the road pop legend who, through her theatrical appearances and songs of resilience, has become a gay icon throughout the world. The other is a blues-loving posh London boy who became the frontman of the world’s most dangerous band. But there are similarities to be found as well: the focus on longevity, the flamboyant fashion senses, the fact that both could dance circles around singers more than half their age. Sound wise, they’re miles apart, but just below the surface, Jagger and Cher make an unlikely but amicable duo.
In 1964, Cher and her husband Sonny Bono were performing and recording and Caesar & Cleo to little acclaim. Bono was a protege of Phil Spector, with Cher having guested as a backup singer on some of his most famous productions, but the duo wasn’t breaking in America. It took a killer single and some clever advice from none other than Mick Jagger in order to kickstart their career.
The duo decided on a name change, going with their real names by performing as Sonny & Cher, and celebrated by recording a new song, ‘I Got You Babe’. The song, a pop tune that lightly flirted with long-haired counterculture under the guise of traditional puppy love, was too catchy to be ignored. However, they still couldn’t get a foothold in the American market. That’s when Jagger gave them a suggestion: go to London, and make a spectacle of it.
“He had told us that Americans just didn’t get us and that if we were going to make it big, we were going to have to go to England,” Cher recalled years later. So in the summer of 1965, the duo booked a room at the London Hilton – and promptly got thrown out because of their hippie attire. There was still a clash between mods and rockers going on at the time, and the flower-power style was still relatively new. The press eagerly covered them, and ‘I Got You Babe’ began to sell on both sides on the Atlantic. When it reached number one in both the US and UK, Cher probably should have sent a gold record to Mick Jagger for his invaluable advice.