Cher Sues Mary Bono for $1 Million From Missing Sonny & Cher Royalties

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Videos by American Songwriter

Today (October 14), Rolling Stone reported that legendary singer, Cher, has filed a lawsuit claiming that Mary Bono, the widow of Cher’s former husband and singing partner, Sonny Bono, has withheld significant royalty payments and is working to terminate Cher’s 50-percent stake in the former team’s catalog.

In the suit, which was filed Wednesday (October 13) in Los Angeles district court, Cher says that Sonny’s relatives have stopped paying her royalties on the duo’s music. This includes hits like, “I Got You Babe.” Despite the fact that Sonny died in a 1998 skiing accident, the duo had a deal as part of their 1978 divorce stating that Cher would receive 50-percent of their catalogue’s royalties.

According to Rolling Stone, Cher alleges that Mary has tried to use “a wholly inapplicable statutory termination provision of the Copyright Act of 1976” to work Cher out of her agreed-upon 50-percent cut.

Rolling Stone then added that Cher is seeking $1 million in the lawsuit, which she asserts is the amount lost and withheld by Mary.

The lawsuit states: “In or about September 2021, representatives of the Bono Collection Trust advised [Cher]’s representatives that the Bono Collection Trust contends that the Heirs’ notice of termination, by terminating grants to music publishers or other companies that have paid Royalties to the Bono Collection Trust, also terminates the stream of Composition Royalties that Sonny assigned to Plaintiff in the 1978 Marriage Settlement Agreement and, as a result, the Heirs’ statutory termination ends her right to those Royalties.”

It continues: “Based on that contention, the Bono Collection Trust has advised [Cher] that upon the effective dates of the Heirs’ termination of each of the music publisher and other contracts, the Bono Collection Trust will no longer pay and account to [Cher] for her 50% ownership of the Composition Royalties that Sonny assigned to [Cher] in the Marriage Settlement Agreement as her share of their community property.”

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