Cher has lived three-quarters of a century. Really lived. She became a singing star in the 1960s, shined on television in the 1970s, and even won an Academy Award in the 1980s. All of that happened before she made her big musical comeback in the late-’80s, which was highlighted by “If I Could Turn Back Time.” The song was released as lead single from her nineteenth studio album Heart of Stone in 1989.
While the song was an accessible hit across multiple radio formats, the music video for “If I Could Turn Back Time” was very controversial. It was filmed in a California shipyard aboard the battleship USS Missouri and depicts Cher and her band performing for the ship’s actual crew.
Cher has always been known for her outrageous wardrobe. Her outfit for the video was the infamous fishnet body stocking under a black one-piece bathing suit, leaving most of her buttocks exposed. Many TV networks refused to show the video. Even MTV banned the video at first, then later played it only after 9:00 PM.
The U.S. Navy was criticized for allowing the video shoot, especially by World War II veterans who saw it as a desecration of a venerated warship. The USS Missouri was the site of Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945, which ended World War II. No Navy officials were ever disciplined for their role in the video’s production, but rumor has it the Secretary of the Navy did consider firing the captain of USS Missouri.
Fun Fact: Cher’s son, Elijah Blue Allman, 12 at the time, appears as one of the band’s guitarists. Look for him in the sunglasses and Jimi Hendrix t-shirt.