This Day in Music, May 20: Cher's Birthday, Rihanna's "Umbrella"

By , Contributor

May 20

Born on this day in 1946 in El Centro, California, singer, television personality, actress, director and gay icon, Cherilyn Sarkasian, better known as Cher, (and sometimes referred to as the Goddess of Pop). 

Cher began her career as a backup singer working with legendary producer Phil Spector (including The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling", The Crystals "Da Doo Ron Ron" and The Ronettes "Be My Baby").  

The singers solo career was launched with a spectacular flop. To cash in on Beatle mania and Americans love for the Fab Four, Cher released the single "Ringo, I Love You" in 1964, under the pseudonym of Bonnie Jo Mason. The single disappeared without trace after radio-stations thought Cher's extremely low vocals were indeed a man's, therefore believing it was a male homosexual singing a love song as a dedication to The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr!   

Cher's fortunes of course soon changed and she rose to prominence as one half of the pop rock duo Sonny & Cher with the success of "I Got You Babe" in 1965.  

After a string of hits, the golden couple, (who had married in the early '60s), enjoyed high ratings with the long running CBS TV variety show The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. After the couple divorced in the mid-'70s, Cher presented her own TV show and then surprisingly (or was it the money?), the couple put the troubles of their divorce behind them and once again teamed up and gave us The Sonny & Cher Show, (Cher was now married to musician Gregg Allman).

The '80s saw the singer making her mark on the big screen, with a well-received performance in the film Silkwood, and then a string of hit films including Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988. 

A new decade and more hits! Her remake of the Betty Everett 1964 hit, "The Shoop Shoop Song" (featured in her latest film Mermaids) was a #1 hit in the UK, but failed to break into the Top 30 in the US. Just when we thought it was all over, she came back with her biggest-selling recording to date.

The dance single "Believe" was the best-selling single of 1999 having sold over 10 million copies worldwide, making Cher the only artist to reach the #1 position on the Billboard charts in each of the previous six decades.  



On this day in 2007, Rihanna featuring Jay-Z started a 10 week run at #1 on the UK singles chart with "Umbrella" making it the longest running #1 single since Wet Wet Wet's version of The Troggs hit "Love Is All Around".  

The tune's humble beginnings came from one of its writers "messing around with a walloping hi-hat sound", which he found in the free music software GarageBand on his Mac computer. His writing partner heard the beats and quickly wrote the lyrics, completing the first verse in 60 seconds, (not a bad days work then!).  

The song was written with American pop superstar Britney Spears in mind, but her record label passed on the tune, (maybe this is why when Britney witnessed the success of the song she famously attacked a paparazzis car with an umbrella?). 

Rihanna and Jay-Z went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for the track. 

The song's reign at #1 in the UK occurred when the country was hit by extreme rainfall and flooding, which led to the media referring to it as the "Rihanna Curse". It was also pointed out that the single's video had been shot on Friday the 13th.

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A former musician, Neil was in the 80's group The Cheaters who were once signed to EMI's Parlophone label, and released three albums. He was also a radio presenter and is still a regular music pundit on various BBC stations. Neil is the founder of the award winning web site This Day in Music which is…

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