Call it a fight with Cher.
Cher is suing Sonny Bono’s widow over royalties for songs that the pop icon glorified her ex-husband as the musical duo Sonny & Cher.
Cher filed a $ 1 million federal lawsuit on Wednesday against former Rep. Mary Bono, trustee of the Bono Collection Trust, and others, accusing them of breach of contract.
The 75-year-old artist said that Bono’s fourth wife was trying to revoke the clauses giving Cher the right to own 50% of the music royalties, recording royalties and other assets from their marriage.
Some of the hits featured in the application include “I Got You Babe,” “The Beat Goes On,” “Baby Don’t Go,” “Little Man,” and “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).”
The “Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” stars began performing together in 1964, married in 1969, and divorced in 1975. Cher went on to become a solo superstar, writing new hits such as “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe,” and even won an Oscar for her role in “Strike the Moon.”
Sonny Bono, who died in a skiing accident on Lake Tahoe in 1998, continued his career in California politics as a Republican Congressman in Palm Springs. Mary Bono later won a seat in the House of Representatives and has appeared alongside Cher at various events over the years.
Cher claimed that she and Sonny agreed to an equal division of common property after their divorce in 1978.
Her legal team, led by Los Angeles-based Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, claims that Sonny Bono “irrevocably transferred” these rights to Cher in 1978 “as her only and separate property worldwide and for an indefinite period.” According to a 20-page complaint received by The Times on Thursday, she “was the undisputed owner of her 50% share of all music composition and recording royalties during their collaboration and marriage.”
The lawsuit says Mary Bono is accused of trying to reverse that agreement and strip Cher of other long-established rights under an amicable settlement.
“This action has become necessary because now, more than forty years after [Cher] received 50% of the ownership of her and Sonny, Sonny’s fourth wife and widow, defendant Mary Bono, claims that the 1976 termination of the Copyright Act is completely inapplicable … [Cher’s] ownership of her royalties for songs and recordings that she and Sonny glorified during their marriage and stripped of [Cher] other long-established rights under the 1978 agreement, ”the application says.
But Mary Bono’s team claims she was within her rights.
“Copyright law allows Sonny’s widow and children to claim Sonny’s copyright from publishers, which they did,” Mary Bono’s attorney Daniel J. Schacht said in a statement to The Times. “Rep. Bono is still open to further private discussion of this issue, but we are confident that, if necessary, the court will confirm their position. “
Cher’s complaint said that in 2016, Sonny Bono’s heirs, or most of them, and Wixen Music Publishing sent a termination notice to various music publishers or other companies to which Sonny Bono had granted a transfer or license to renew the copyright of the musical. compositions.
The notice indicated various effective dates for the termination from 2018 to 2026 and was issued without Cher’s knowledge or involvement. The filing stated that Cher had never asked Wixen to help issue any termination notice.
The Bono Collection Trust told Cher’s representatives last month that noticing the heirs to terminate the contract also stopped the flow of song royalties that Sonny Bono had assigned her in 1978. As a result, the termination of the law by the heirs terminates her eligibility for those royalties and is no longer paid to her or her by Veritas Trust, the lawsuit says.
The Bono Collection Trust also claims that Cher no longer has approval rights in agreements with third parties regarding musical compositions and composition royalties. According to her lawyers, she also no longer has the right to directly pay 50% of royalties to record companies or object to administrative fees in excess of 10%, and is not allowed to terminate Wixen agreements.
According to the complaint, Cher disputes each of the Bono Collection Trust’s claims. She is claiming $ 1 million in damages and wants a judge to enforce the 1978 divorce by dividing their fees in the future.
Mary Bono has not yet responded to Cher’s lawsuit.