Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

POINTER SISTERS, The

Harmony vocal group formed by sisters Ruth (b 1946), Anita (1948), Bonnie (1950) and June (b 1954; d 11 April 2006 of cancer) Pointer, all from Oakland CA. They sang in church, backed Dave Mason and Elvin Bishop, made two singles for Atlantic; a gig at L.A. Troubadour Club '73 launched them as a vocal nostalgia act in the Mahattan Transfer vein: signing with ABC/Blue Thumb and guided by San Francisco producer David Rubinson, they merged originals with hand-picked period pieces to show off close-harmony scat-singing. The Pointer Sisters '73 launched them in style, including covers of Allen Toussaint ('Yes We Can Can'), Willie Dixon ('Wang Wang Doodle'); Anita and Bonnie's 'Fairy Tale' was a Grammy-winning country crossover '74 and they became the first black female act to appear at the Grand Ole Opry. They had a no. 20 pop hit '75 with the hard-nosed 'How Long (Betcha Got A Chick On The Side)', but the nostalgia act was becoming restrictive (if lucrative: they worked Las Vegas).

After albums That's A Plenty and Live At The Opera House '74, Steppin' '75 and Having A Party '77 Bonnie went solo; the trio signed with Richard Perry's Planet label, groomed as a crossover act, and scored street-cred with Bruce Springsteen's 'Fire', a no. 2 hit '79; eight more top 40 hits '78-84 were mostly predictable as well as fun, and profitable, many charting in the UK too. LPs (some later on RCA) included Energy '78 (including 'Fire'), Priority '79, Special Things '80 ('He's So Shy'), Black And White '81 ('Slow Hand'), So Excited! '82, Break Out '83: their best seller at no. 8, with top ten singles 'Jump (For My Love)', 'Automatic', 'Neutron Dance', 'I'm So Excited' (originally on the '82 LP, substituted on second pressings of Break Out for 'Nightline'); then Contact '85 (including 'Dare Me'), Hot Together '86, Serious Slammin' '88. They faded from the charts, but Sweet And Soulful '92 on RCA was followed by Only Sisters Can Do That '93 on MCA, Fire (two-CD best of) '96 on RCA. June made solo Baby Sister '83; Bonnie made LPs both called Bonnie Pointer on Motown '78-9, had two top 40 singles; switched to Private Stock (Epic in UK) for If The Price Is Right '84.