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The Pointer Sisters

The Pointer Sisters were as chameleonic as David Bowie, if not more so. The sibling group backed Grace Slick and Boz Scaggs, made stops at Sesame Street and the Grand Ole Opry, won a country Grammy, and appeared in the movie Car Wash, all before scoring four consecutive Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 hits in the mid-‘80s. From their early ‘70s releases on Blue Thumb through their ‘80s commercial run on Planet and RCA, the Pointers moved through boogie-woogie, bebop, blues, country, funk, disco, soft rock, electro-pop, hard rock, and several other subgenres as if they were all second nature. The sisters covered Willie Dixon, were covered by Elvis Presley, and released 15 Top 40 Hot 100 singles while sustaining a steady presence on the R&B, club, and adult contemporary charts.

Ruth, Anita, Bonnie, and June Pointer grew up in Oakland, California, daughters of a mother and reverend father who encouraged gospel singing and forbade blues and rock & roll. They developed their love for various forms of secular music through visits and slumber parties at the homes of friends, where they could listen to music and watch programs like American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show. The sisters’ public performances were limited to church, but once they were older, Bonnie and June formed a duo and were eventually joined by Anita; they provided background vocals for a number of artists, including Grace Slick, Boz Scaggs, and Sylvester. While performing with Walter Bishop, they caught the eyes and ears of the Atlantic label, who released the Pointer Sisters' first two singles: 1971’s Honey Cone-like “Don’t Try to Take the Fifth” and the following year’s “Destination No More Heartaches.” Neither song charted, but the abundant potential was obvious.

By the end of 1972, the group was a quartet that also featured Ruth. The Pointers left Atlantic for Blue Thumb, where they released five eclectic albums: The Pointer Sisters (1973), That’s a Plenty (1974), Live at the Opera House (1974), Steppin’ (1975), and Having a Party (1977). Among the hit singles from these releases were the empowering “Yes We Can Can” (written by Allen Toussaint), “How Long (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side)” (a Toussaint-flavored song written by Bonnie and Anita with David Rubinson), and “Going Down Slowly” (a grinding take on Toussaint's “Going Down”). The most successful song of all was “Fairtyale,” a Bonnie- and Anita-penned departure into country music that peaked at number 13 on the Hot 100. This enabled the Pointers to perform at the Grand Ole Opry -- as the first African-American vocal group to do so -- and the song also won the 1974 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. It was covered by Elvis Presley. The same year Having a Party was issued, the popular children’s television program Sesame Street first aired a classic animated segment called Pinball Number Count, which featured vocals the Pointers recorded several years earlier.

Between the release of Having a Party and the end of 1977, June and Bonnie departed from the group, with the latter initiating a solo career. Ruth and Anita signed a deal with producer Richard Perry's Elektra-affiliated Planet label, and June re-joined in time to record Energy (1978), which featured a cover of Sly & the Family Stone's “Everybody Is a Star” and the Toussaint-written “Happiness” (the group’s first single to hit the disco chart) but was otherwise rooted in rock, with interpretations of Steely Dan, Bob Welch-era Fleetwood Mac, and the Doobie Brothers, along with the second released recording -- following a version by Robert Gordon -- of Bruce Springsteen's “Fire,” a song intended for Elvis Presley. The Pointers took it to number two on the Hot 100 chart. The rest of the group’s years with Perry and Planet were extremely successful, culminating with 1983’s Break Out, an album that went multi-platinum due to a string of four state-of-the-art dance-pop singles. “Automatic,” “Jump (For My Love),” a remix of 1982’s “I’m So Excited,” and “Neutron Dance” all peaked in the Hot 100’s Top Ten. The women won two additional Grammys.

During the latter half of the ‘80s and the early ‘90s, the Pointer Sisters released five more albums on RCA, Motown, and SBK. 1985’s Contact, featuring the crossover hit “Dare Me,” was the group’s last album to go platinum. While they did not record any albums after 1993’s Only Sisters Can Do That, they continued to perform on an infrequent basis. Issa, Ruth’s daughter, provided backing vocals on the final album and joined as a full member when June left for health reasons. A victim of lung cancer, June passed away in 2006. The Pointer Sisters, however, continued performing throughout the rest of the decade. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

They were fantastic in Houston! Danny in Massachusett s
johnmargie6
Get up and move your body!! Nutron dance.
,""<,"3
Beautiful beautiful song
Was So Fortunate to Open for them on their 83' Breakout Tour...in Qld ��'s Times Three Love them ❤️��������
Most definitely belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!!!! I LOVE those ladies! That's "sangin'"!
I MISS THESE SISTERS they knew how to get the party started but stuff goes on in all families they will always be my sheros
GREAT GROUP, GREAT SOUND, GREAT ENERGY!!!
I dig those Pointer Sisters with all that talent and the different forms of music they can sing including Jazz, Country, R&B and Dance music. Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June Pointer should be in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I loved their since of style, very original no and I mean no could come close to these very beautiful ladies. I am a honest to goodness true fan .Peace to you all with much love.
Damm,I miss these ladies
truson
One of the greatest sounds ..I fell for them back in the late 70s..
robynpace
Their songs are part of my best childhood memories.
Finish the BIO, there is nothing on them. They were great. The energy was terrific. Where did they go?
I remember seeing them on the Carol Burnett show, trying really hard to get her to scat with them. Something about salted peanuts.
hdroney
How about "Save the Bones for Henry Jones" or "How Long, Betcha Got a Chick on the Side"~the album is "Steppin" by the Pointer Sisters.
With all of the great music that these ladies recorded, I can't believe that this is all of the "Bio" that Pandora can come up with for them.
they were fun
my ladies...all the way baby..
"Automatic" is such a great song! I can't help but be happy when I hear it; It instantly reminds me of my childhood and simpler times. Ah, memories! :)
I love their pop stuff, but before they went pop, they were fabulous in a whole different way!
pozeyt
They are definitely one of my favorite all-female groups of all time.
love their groove, used to see them at the Boarding House in SF ah, memories.
anthonyja2
Why don't you mention JUNE POINTERS contribution s ?
beachcleopur p l e
great harmonies with such a wonderful dancin' beat. Saw a concert about 9 years ago at Foxwood's and had the whole place jumpin'.
One of my favorite albums of the Pointer Sisters was "Steppin". The Pointer Sisters were there best with four part harmonies.
Wonderful music. love them very unique
coolcombo449
I loved them back in 74 as a child when I first heard them, in the 80's as a teenager and young adult; they were awesome and they're choice of song worked for them. Pity, June had to pass at such a young age, but they will always be in my memories, my I-Pod and numerous CD's -- yes I loved them that much. Especially "Steam Heat" .....
i love these girls they know how to make you feel good when your down i love all there songs i grew up listening to them and i love this group
I looovve these ladies... I use to dance in my room in front of the mirror to them... They bring back great memories for me..
kennethtamar a
Maybe I was too young when they were in their peak, but the only song of theirs that rings eternally in my mind when I hear their name is: AUTOMATIC.
First time I heard that song on the radio, I was mesmerized and flooored! Superb pop song from that era!

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