Cher filed a potentially million-dollar lawsuit Wednesday against Mary Bono, widow of the singer’s ex-husband Sonny Bono, accusing her of wrongly withholding royalties to songs like “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.”
Cher and Sonny Bono, who made up the 1960s and ’70s pop duo Sonny & Cher, were married from 1967 to 1975 before divorcing and agreeing to “an equal division of their community property,” which included an even split of music royalties, according to Cher’s federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles.
That 50-50 split carried on even after Sonny Bono’s death in a Jan. 5, 1998, skiing accident, Cher said.
But last month, Mary Bono, through the Bono Collection Trust, told Cher she would be cut off from royalties to Sonny & Cher hits like “I Got You Babe,” “The Beat Goes On,” “Baby Don’t Go,” “Little Man” and “Bang Bang.”
The “notice of termination” stunned Cher as she “has been the unchallenged owner of her fifty percent of all musical composition and record royalties,” the entertainer’s lawsuit said.
The civil complaint did not name an exact dollar figure sought, only saying that Cher is sustaining “damages, and will continue to sustain damages, in an amount not presently known but believed to exceed $1,000,000.”
Public records show Mary Bono living in Colorado, and she could not be reached for comment Thursday at any of her listed phone numbers.
Sonny Bono served as mayor of Palm Springs and before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1994 and 1996.
After Sonny Bono’s death, Mary Bono won a special election to her late husband’s seat and held it until she was ousted in 2012.
Whitney Lee contributed.