Bonnie Pointer, founding member of Grammy-winning vocal group the Pointer Sisters, has died at the age of 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 and band member Anita Pointer said in a statement Monday. “Our family is devastated. On behalf of my siblings and I and the entire Pointer family, we ask for your prayers at this time.” No cause of death has been released.
Born in Oakland, California, Bonnie, born Patricia, and younger sister June Pointer, who died in 2006, initially struck out as a duo under the name the Pointers. After sister Anita joined the act, the trio toured as back-up singers and opening acts for artists like Grace Slick and Boz Scaggs, soon signing to Atlantic Records in 1971. Sister Ruth joined the group in December 1972. Their first album, 1973’s The Pointer Sisters, placing them on the Billboard charts with singles “Yes We Can Can” and “Wang Dang Doodle.”
In 1974, their second album That’s a Plenty produced the crossover country hit “Fairytale,” co-written by Bonnie and Anita and later covered by Elvis Presley. The song won them a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. While their first Grammy-winning song was a country tune, the group found their greatest success as an R&B act and, later, recording dance music. After the release of 1975’s Steppin’, which birthed the hits “How Long (Betcha’ Got a Chick on the Side)” and “Live Your Life Before You Die,” Bonnie left the group in 1977 to pursue a solo career, releasing four albums and making it back to the top of the pop charts once again with a disco version of The Elgins’ “Heaven Must Have Sent You” in 1979.