One of the founding members of the successful R&B act the Pointer Sisters, vocalist Bonnie Pointer was a key component of the act during their early years, when their music was a unique mixture of expert harmonies, New Orleans grooves, and a retro-friendly style that made room for jazz, jump blues, and vintage pop influences. After the Pointer Sisters’ fourth album, Bonnie left the group to launch a solo career that put her vocal skills in the service of dance-oriented R&B. Her work with her sisters is best appreciated on 1973’s The Pointer Sisters and 1975’s Steppin’, while her first two solo albums (both titled Bonnie Pointer, issued in 1978 and 1979) were the high points of her disco period.
Born on July 11, 1950 in Oakland, California, Patricia Eva Pointer, nicknamed Bonnie by her family, grew up singing with her sisters, and in 1969, she and sibling June Pointer began performing together, using the names the Pointers and the Pair. By the end of that year, Anita Pointer joined the group and they adopted the name the Pointer Sisters. The trio landed a record deal with Atlantic Records, but after issuing a pair of singles in 1971 and 1972, they were dropped. Their luck changed after Ruth Pointer joined the act and they reworked their image, wearing ’40s-style costumes and devising an approach that was retro but funky. Signed to Blue Thumb Records, their first album as a quartet, 1973’s The Pointer Sisters, went gold after the success of the singles “Yes We Can Can” and “Wang Dang Doodle.” Their second album, 1974’s That’s A-Plenty, came out in early 1974, and included the country-influenced hit “Fairytale,” co-written by Bonnie. By the end of 1974, the Pointer Sisters had released a concert album, Live at the Opera House, and 1975’s Steppin’ featured another hit co-written by Bonnie, “How Long (Betcha’ Got a Chick on the Side).”
In 1977, Bonnie Pointer left the group, and the Pointer Sisters would continue as a trio, usually performing more contemporary pop/R&B material. Bonnie married producer Jeffrey Bowen in 1978, the same year she signed a solo deal with Motown Records. Bowen and Barry Gordy co-produced Bonnie’s first solo album, 1978’s Bonnie Pointer (referred to by fans as “The Red Album”), which included the hits “Heaven Must Have Sent You” and “Free Me from My Freedom” and found singing her own backing vocals as well as leads. The album was in a solidly disco-oriented direction, as was 1979’s Bonnie Pointer (aka “the Purple Album”), produced by Bowen and composed of remakes of Motown classics except for “Deep Inside My Soul,” co-written by Bonnie. She had a falling out with Motown, and it wasn’t until 1984 that she brought out her third solo effort, If the Price Is Right, issued by the Sony-distributed Private I label. If the Price Is Right was steeped in period electronic funk, as were the two songs Pointer cut for the 1985 soundtrack album for the movie Heavenly Bodies, also released by Private I. Both efforts soon faded from view, and though she performed live on occasion, Pointer didn’t release another album until 2011 with Like a Picasso. In February 2020, she and her sister Anita Pointer released a new recording, “Feels Like June,” a song they wrote in tribute to their late sister June. It was the last music Bonnie would release in her lifetime; she died on June 8, 2020 at the age of 69.
- July, 11, 1950
- Oakland, California
- June, 08, 2020
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- cardiac arrest
- Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend