One of the toughest to locate out of all the celebrities who hailed from Michigan, was Sonny Bono. Sonny's rise to fame was as ½ of 'Sonny & Cher' in the mid-60s into the 70s. Details about his childhood growing up in Detroit are scarce and photos are even more rare...but there are a few details out there.

According to Michigan Rock & Roll Legends, Sonny was born Salvatore Bono on January 16, 1935, in Detroit, the son of Santo and Jean Bono. Jean's parents pushed her into getting married to Santo when she was only fourteen years old; after Santo & Jean's pre-arranged Sicilian wedding, they moved to Detroit to start a family. Not marrying out of love, the union was not a happy one; thus, Sonny's childhood home life was wrought with extreme strictness and constant arguments from his mother and father.

Sonny's first interest in becoming a performer occurred as he attended a Detroit grammar school. He appeared in a school play, and after experiencing applause, he realized this is the path he wanted to take – something in the entertainment world.

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While Sonny was in grade school, his family moved from one Detroit house to a second: they lived in a house on Camden Avenue and the other was on Holcomb Avenue. In 1942, when Sonny was seven years old, his parents moved the family to California, thinking there would be better work opportunities.

Sonny’s parents tried to coax him to become a doctor or lawyer (money in both professions, you see), but his poor grades and non-attention to the subjects caused even more family stress. As a way to bring a little less stress into the home, Santo began playing the accordion and banjo on weekends, which turned Sonny's interest to music. That was the beginning.

According to the book "Home in Detroit", Sonny's two childhood Detroit homes were on Holcomb Avenue and the other on Camden Avenue. Both sites are seen in the gallery below.

Sonny Bono's Childhood Homes


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