Singer Bonnie Pointer, early member of Pointer Sisters, dies at 69 in Los Angeles
Bonnie Pointer, who convinced three of her church-singing siblings in 1969 to form the Pointer Sisters, which would become one of the biggest acts of the next two decades, died on Monday.
The Grammy winner died of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, said publicist Roger Neal. She was 69 years old.
“It is with great sadness that I have to tell Pointer Sisters fans that my sister Bonnie passed away this morning,” Sister Anita Pointer said in a statement. “Our family is devastated. On behalf of my siblings and I and the entire Pointer family, we ask for your prayers.”
Bonnie Pointer often sang lead and was an integral part of the group through her early hits like Yes We Can Can and Fairytale. She would embark on a short and humble solo career in 1977, as her sisters had several mega hits without her.
Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June, born the daughters of a minister who also had two older sons, grew up singing in his church in Oakland, California.
It was Bonnie who, shortly after graduating from high school, initially stopped singing gospel songs in clubs in order to pursue a professional singing career.
“The pointer sisters would never have happened without Bonnie,” said Anita Pointer in her statement.
She convinced younger sister June to join her, and the two began performing as a duo together in 1969. Eventually, they would enlist their two older sisters, who were already married with children, to join them.
The quartet brought a unique mix of funk, soul and jazz, scat and pop into their act in the 1940s style and often dressed in a retro style similar to their predecessors, the Andrews Sisters.
They worked as backup singers for Taj Mahal, Boz Scaggs, Elvin Bishop and others before releasing their self-titled debut album in 1973, and the song Yes We Can Can, a funky anthem that calls for unity and tolerance, became their breakout hit .
They followed with That’s A Plenty, which contained an eclectic mix of musical styles from jazz to gospel to pop.
They even plunged into the country. Bonnie and Anita wrote the song Fairytale together about a falling apart relationship. The song earned them a groundbreaking appearance as a rare African American act at the Grand Ole Opry, and they would win their first Grammy for best country singing performance in a group.
Bonnie Pointer left the group in 1977 and signed a solo deal with Motown Records.
“We were devastated,” Anita Pointer told The Associated Press in 1990. “We did a show the night she left, but after that we just stopped. We thought it wouldn’t work without Bonnie.”
She would only have modest solo success. Her biggest hit was Heaven Must Have Sent You, a 1979 disco cover of an earlier Elgins Motown hit. It reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979.
After making three albums for Motown, she retired from the studio and only performed occasionally.
Her three sisters, who nearly broke up when she quit, instead regrouped, giving up their retro image for a modern pop sound, and becoming one of the biggest acts of the 1980s with huge hits like “He’s So Shy.” “,” Jump “(For My Love) and” Neutron Dance.
Bonnie married Motown producer Jeffrey Bowen in 1978. The two separated in 2004 and divorced in 2016.
She met her sisters twice for public appearances. Once in 1994 when they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and again in 1996 on a show in Las Vegas.
“She always told me, mother, I want something for myself,” Bonnie’s mother Sarah Pointer told Ebony in 1974. “I want to be someone in this world.”
June Pointer, the youngest of the sisters, died in 2006.
In addition to Ruth and Anita, her two older brothers Aaron and Fritz Bonnie Pointer survive.
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