The Pointer Sisters Biography

These four sisters, Anita (23 January 1948), Bonnie (b. 11 July 1951), Ruth (b. 19 March 1946) and June (b. 30 November 1953, East Oakland California, USA, d. 11 April 2006, Santa Monica, California, USA), were all born and raised in East Oakland, California, USA, and first sang together in the West Oakland Church of God where their parents were ministers. Despite their family’s reservations, Bonnie, June and Anita embarked on a secular path that culminated in work as backing singers with several of the region’s acts including Cold Blood, Boz Scaggs, Elvin Bishop and Grace Slick. Ruth joined the group in 1972, a year before their self-named debut album was released. During this early period the quartet cultivated a nostalgic 40s image, where feather boas and floral dresses matched their close, Andrews Sisters -styled harmonies. Their repertoire, however, was remarkably varied and included versions of Allen Toussaint’s ‘Yes We Can Can’ and Willie Dixon’s ‘Wang Dang Doodle’, as well as original compositions. One such song, ‘Fairytale’, won a 1974 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance. However, the sisters were concerned that the typecast, nostalgic image was restraining them as vocalists. They broke up briefly in 1977, but while Bonnie Pointer embarked on a solo career, the remaining trio regrouped and signed with producer Richard Perry’s new label, Planet. ‘Fire’, a crafted Bruce Springsteen composition, was a million-selling single in 1979, and the group’s rebirth was complete.

The Pointer Sisters progress continued with two further gold discs, ‘He’s So Shy’ and the sensual ‘Slow Hand’, while two 1984 releases, ‘Jump (For My Love)’ and ‘Automatic’, won further Grammy Awards. June and Anita also recorded contemporaneous solo releases, but although ‘Dare Me’ gave the group another major hit in 1985, their subsequent work lacked the sparkle of their earlier achievements. The trio appeared resigned to appearing on the oldies circuit during the 90s. In 1995, they appeared in a revival performance of the musical Ain’t Misbehavin’. June Pointer was later barred from performing with her sisters due to repeated substance abuse problems. She was replaced by Ruth’s daughter Issa.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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