Unlikely Music Friendships Captured on Film: Installment No. 4
Although it looks like Stevie Wonder is awkwardly holding a Cher mannequin that somebody suddenly presented him with as a gift, I can assure you that this is the real Cher. Or at least as much of the real Cher that actually exists. I mean, seriously, aside from looking lifeless and plastic, she looks almost exactly like she does now … 37 years later!
Yes, this photo was taken 37 years ago at the 16th Annual Grammy Awards. To give the photo a little context of where Stevie and Cher were with their lives and careers in March of 1974, Cher was two months away from releasing what was to be her eleventh album, “Dark Lady.” I know! Cher had 10 freaking albums behind her already! And that’s just solo Cher, not including the ones she did with Sonny, speaking of whom, her marriage to Mr. Bono was falling apart at the time that this photo was taken. The two would finalize their divorce in June of the following year.
Stevie, on the other hand, was on top of the world. That night he won the Album of the Year award for “Innervisions” and Producer of the Year for that same album. He had suffered injuries from a car crash six months earlier and was in a coma for four days. During his recovery, he said he began to think about life differently, and two years later he would release his absolute classic double-album, “Songs in the Key of Life.”
But back to that night in question when this photo was snapped. Here is how I imagine the discussion to have gone.
CHER: Hey, congratulations on winning the Album of the Year
STEVIE: Hey, thanks. That means a lot to me, coming from you. I love love love love “Gypsy, Tramps and Thieves.”
CHER: Are you serious?
STEVIE: Well, most of it. I don’t really like the part where you sing, “I was 16, he was 21/Rode with us to Memphis/And papa would’ve shot him if he knew what he’d done.” I always thought it was kind of rapey.
STEVIE: Well, the age of consent in most places is 18, so it would at least be statutory rape.
CHER: Gosh, that is really bad, isn’t it? I never thought of that before. But you’re right. I feel horrible. I think I need to be hugged right now!
STEVIE: Okay, I’ll give you a hug. Woah, your skin feels hard, almost like the feel of my leather shirt.
CHER: Wait, let me feel that shirt. Oh, hey, there’s photographer Michael Ochs! I think he just took a picture of us.
STEVIE: Your hair is on my hand.
CHER: Oops. Sorry about that. I’m kind of known for flinging my beautiful long hair all over the place. You should see what my hair looks like on the cover of the “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves” album. … Oh gosh. I didn’t mean that about seeing it. I’m so sorry. That totally came out wrong. What can I do to make it up to you?
STEVIE: No, it’s okay. But maybe I will let you make it up to me. Hmmm. Let’s see … How about in 13 years you can film a video on an aircraft carrier, and wear a weird pantsuit that exposes the two tattoos on your butt?
CHER: But I don’t have tattoos on my butt!
STEVIE: Well, get them already!
CHER: Okay, but only if you win Album of the Year two more times this decade!
STEVIE: You’ve got a deal!
CHER: Okay, now please let go of me. My husband’s right over there, and we’re not exactly on the best of terms right now.
Since you made it to the end of this post, dear reader, I will reward you with actual footage of what really happened. Spoiler Alert: The exchange does not go exactly the way I imagined it. Click here.