Why Cher is suing Sonny Bono’s widow, Mary Bono

Call it a Cher fight.

Cher is suing Sonny Bono’s widow for royalties on songs the pop icon made famous with her ex-husband as musical duo Sonny and Cher.

Cher filed a $ 1 million federal lawsuit on Wednesday against former Rep. Mary Bono, director of the Bono Collection Trust, and others, accusing them of breach of contract.

The 75-year-old artist claimed that Bono’s fourth wife tried to end arrangements that allow Cher to own 50% of the duo’s music composition royalties, recording royalties and other assets from their marriage.

Some of the hits cited in the record include “I Got You Babe”, “The Beat Goes On”, “Baby Don’t Go”, “Little Man” and “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”.

Mary Bono Mack, left, and Cher appear at the 23rd GLAAD Media Awards in 2012.

(Vince Bucci / Associated press)

The stars of “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” began performing together in 1964, married in 1967, and divorced in 1975. Cher became a solo superstar, performing new hits with “If I Could Turn Back Time “and” Believe “and winning an Oscar for her role in” Moonstruck “.

Sonny Bono, who died in a skiing accident at Lake Tahoe in 1998, pursued a career in California politics as a Republican congressman in Palm Springs. Mary Bono went on to win her House seat and appeared alongside Cher at various events over the years.

Cher alleged that she and Sonny agreed to an equal division of their joint property when they settled their divorce in 1978.

His legal team – led by Los Angeles law firm Davis, Wright, Tremaine LLP – contends that Sonny Bono “irrevocably ceded” these rights to Cher in 1978 “as his unique and distinct property worldwide and in perpetuity.” . She “was the undisputed owner of her 50% share of all music composition and recording royalties during their collaboration and marriage,” according to the 20-page complaint, obtained Thursday by The Times.

Mary Bono is accused of trying to rescind the deal and deprive Cher of other long-established rights under the settlement, according to the lawsuit.

“This action has become necessary because now, more than forty years later [Cher] received 50% ownership over her and the community property of Sonny, Sonny’s fourth wife and widow, defendant Mary Bono, claims that a totally unenforceable statutory termination provision of the Right to Work Act 1976 author … canceled [Cher’s] ownership of her royalties on songs and recordings that she and Sonny made famous during their marriage, and private [Cher] other rights long established under the 1978 agreement, ”the record says.

The complaint states that in 2016, the heirs of Sonny Bono, or the majority of them, and Wixen Music Publishing issued a termination notice to various music publishers or other companies to which Sonny Bono had granted a transfer or transfer. musical comedy copyright renewal license. composition.

The notice specified various effective termination dates ranging from 2018 to 2026 and was issued without Cher’s knowledge or participation. Cher never asked Wixen to assist in issuing a termination notice, according to the filing.

Three actors in costume perform a comedy sketch

Cher, center, with Sonny Bono, right, and novelist Truman Capote perform in a comedy sketch in 1973 on the TV show Sonny and Cher.

(Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times)

Last month, the Bono Collection Trust told Cher’s representatives that the heirs termination notice also ended the flow of composition royalties Sonny Bono awarded to her in 1978. As a result, the statutory termination of the heirs ends to her right to those royalties and no longer pay her to Veritas Trust, the lawsuit said.

The Bono Collection Trust also maintains that Cher no longer has approval rights in agreements with third parties regarding musical compositions and composition royalties. It is also no longer entitled to direct payment of its 50% of record company royalties, nor allowed to object to administration fees above 10% and does not have the right to terminate the Wixen agreements, have declared his lawyers.

Cher disputes each of the Bono Collection Trust’s claims, according to the complaint. She claims $ 1 million in damages and wants a judge to enforce the 1978 divorce settlement by dividing their royalties in the future.

Mary Bono has yet to file a response to Cher’s lawsuit. Its representatives did not immediately respond to the Times’ request for comment on Thursday.

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