Bonnie Pointer — a Grammy-winning founding member of the Pointer Sisters, who was essential to the group’s early success but left the group before most of their biggest hits — died Monday.
Pointer died of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, publicist Roger Neal said. She was 69.
“It is with great sadness that I have to announce to the fans of the Pointer Sisters that my sister, Bonnie died 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 at this time.”
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.
“The Pointer Sisters would never have happened had it not been for Bonnie,” Anita Pointer said in her statement.
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 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.
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 became their breakout hit.
They followed up with That’s A Plenty, which featured an eclectic mix of musical styles ranging from jazz to country and pop. They won a Grammy Award in 1974 for best country vocal performance by a group for the song Fairytale, which Bonnie co-wrote.