Bonnie Pointer, a founding member of the Oakland-based group the Pointer Sisters, has died at the age of 69. Her cause of death was reportedly cardiac arrest.
Anita Pointer confirmed the death of her sister in a statement to Variety:
“It is with great sadness that I have to announce to the fans of the Pointer Sisters that my sister Bonnie died this morning. Our family is devastated. On behalf of my siblings and I and the entire Pointer family, we ask for your prayers at this time.”
Born Patricia Pointer in 1950, Bonnie and her youngest sister, June, formed a singing duo in the 1960s, becoming known as The Pointer Sisters after they were joined by Anita, and later, Ruth Pointer. They released their first album together in 1973, and in 1974, won their first Grammy for the crossover hit “Fairytale.”
Ruth Pointer described Bonnie in her memoir, writing that,
“Bonnie in particular was driven, citing a desperate need to do something with her life. She was wild, fierce, and not to be denied. She hung out in Haight-Ashbury with the hippies, protested at Berkeley, wrote poetry with Angela Davis, and dated Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party.”
In a 2013 interview, Bonnie said that she knew from a young age that she was an entertainer:
“When my parents went to church, me and my sisters would get up on the coffee table and sing. We would use a pie pan as a tambourine. Then, when I was in high school someone told me I could sing. I never thought I really could. I would sing along with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. So when they told me I could sing I started to believe them.” Performing for her was “desperation. I wanted out of the ghetto. I wasn’t even in the ghetto really, but I still wanted out.”
Bonnie left the group in 1977 to launch a career as a solo artist, performing for several more decades and putting out four solo albums. Her last track was one she recorded with her sisters called “Feels Like June, in honor of June Pointer, who died in 2006.