Bonnie Pointer, a member of R&B group The Pointer Sisters, is dead at the age of 69. The singer died Monday at her home in Los Angeles of cardiac arrest.
“It is with great sadness that I have to announce to the fans of The Pointer Sisters that my sister, Bonnie, died this morning,” Bonnie’s sister and former bandmate Anita said in a statement to USA TODAY provided by representative Roger Neal. Anita said “our family is devastated” and asked for “prayers at this time” on behalf of the Pointer family.
“Bonnie was my best friend and we talked every day. We never had a fight in our life, I already miss her and I will see her again one day,” she said.
The four Pointer sisters, Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June, grew up singing in church in Oakland, California, where their father was a minister. It was Bonnie, shortly after graduating high school, who first wanted to move out of church and into clubs to pursue a professional singing career.
She convinced younger sister June to join her, and the two began doing gigs together as a duo in 1969. Eventually they’d convince their two older sisters, who were already married with children, to join them.
“The Pointer Sisters would never have happened had it not been for Bonnie,” Anita said in a statement.
The quartet brought unique fusion of funk, soul and 1940s-style jazz, scat and pop to their act, often dressing in a retro style that resembled their forerunners the Andrews Sisters.
Bonnie and her sisters recorded a slew of hits throughout the 1970s, including their breakout song “Yes We Can Can,” “Wang Dang Doodle” and “How Long (Betcha’ Got a Chick on the Side).”
Bonnie co-wrote the group’s 1974 classic “Fairytale,” which peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and earned a Grammy for best country vocal performance by a duo or group – becoming the first all-female group to win the award. They also were the first African American group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.
Elvis Presley released a cover of “Fairytale” a year later.
Bonnie left the group to pursue a solo career in 1977, finding modest success with a disco cover of The Elgins’ “Heaven Must Have Sent You.” Meanwhile, The Pointer Sisters – led by Ruth and Anita – found their biggest commercial success in the 1980s with songs such as “I’m So Excited,” “Slow Hand,” “Fire” and “He’s So Shy.”
This year, Bonnie and Anita released “Feels Like June,” a tribute to their late sister June, who died in 2006. It was Bonnie’s last recorded song before her death.