Sonny Bono Dead At 62

January 7, 1998 12:00 AM ET

Entertainer turned congressman Sonny Bono was found dead Monday night.

Bono died after hitting a tree and suffering head injuries while skiing at Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Ski Resort on the Nevada side of the California-Nevada border. Bono was reported missing at 7 p.m. local time and his body was found approximately two hours later.

Born to Sicilian immigrants in 1935, Bono became a public figure when he and Phil Spector background singer Cherilyn LaPiere Sarkisian married in 1964 and formed the duo, Sonny and Cher. Over the next 10 years, the two produced several hits, including "Baby Don't Go," "I Got You Babe" and "All I Ever Need Is You."

The two split up in 1974, and Cher went on to build a lucrative entertainment career for herself. Bono opted instead for the political arena, and was elected mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., in 1988. He went to Washington in 1991 after succeeding in his second bid for the House of Representatives. Bono was re-elected in 1996.

A registered Republican, Bono often criticized the National Endowment for the Arts, but never completely eschewed his artistic roots. His defense of the television industry against efforts to introduce a voluntary content-based ratings system earned him a positive mention in the Public Enemy song "Bring the Noise."

In a statement on Tuesday morning, White House press secretary Mike McCurry said Bono was a "refreshing voice in Washington and a dedicated public servant."

Bono is survived by current wife, Mary Whitaker, ex-wife Cher, and four children, including daughter Chastity Bono. He was 62.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »