Bonnie Pointer, the veteran American singer, died on Monday. She was 69.
The musician was best known for being an early member of the Pointer Sisters — the R&B vocal quartet that once consisted of the four Pointer family sisters: June, Bonnie, Ruth and Anita. They gained recognition in the mid-1970s for smash-hit radio singles such as How Long (Betcha’ Got a Chick on the Side) and Live Your Life Before You Die.
On top of that, Bonnie kicked off her own solo career in the late ’70s after being signed to Motown Records. She released four studio albums in a four-decade span, including her most recent, Like a Picasso, which dropped in 2011.
Bonnie’s publicist, Roger Neal, told the Associated Press (AP) that she died as a result of cardiac arrest in her hometown of Los Angeles, Calif., on June 8.
“It is with great sadness that I have to announce to the fans of the Pointer Sisters that my sister, Bonnie, died this morning,” Anita, 72, said in an additional statement provided to AP.
“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 Pointer sisters were all daughters of an Oakland minister who also had two older sons. The six children grew up singing at his church.
It was Bonnie, shortly after graduating high school, who first wanted to move away from singing gospel songs into clubs to pursue a professional singing career.
While Bonnie initially co-founded the Pointer Sisters with June in 1969 under the name Pointers, a Pair, it wasn’t long after that Anita joined the duo, making them a trio and ultimately forcing them to adopt the soon-to-be household name the Pointer Sisters.
“The Pointer Sisters would never have happened had it not been for Bonnie,” Anita told AP on Monday.
Two years before releasing their first big hit, Ruth — the oldest sister and only active original member of the band — joined her three younger siblings as the final member of the classic lineup.
It was in 1974 that the four-piece released Fairytale, which became an award-winning country track that helped give the Pointer Sisters recognition all across the U.S. before they made it big internationally.
Though the band has lived on for five decades now, Bonnie officially left the Pointer Sisters in 1977 to pursue her solo career.
She found breakthrough success with her 1979 disco-style cover of The Elgins’ Heaven Must Have Sent You as well as her second album, the Bonnie Pointer Purple Album.
With the decline of her solo career, Bonnie only performed sporadically for the remainder of her life.
On two separate occasions, she publicly reunited with the Pointer Sisters. The first time was in 1994, when the group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the second, in 1996, was when she performed with her sisters at a Las Vegas gig.
Bonnie was born on July 11, 1950 in Oakland, Calif., as Patricia Eva Pointer.
She married Motown producer Jeffrey Bowen in 1978, and after 26 years, they separated in 2004 and finalized their divorce in 2016. The couple had no children.
June, the youngest of the four sisters, died in 2006. She was 52.
Today, the Pointer Sisters still exist as Ruth, her daughter Issa and her granddaughter Sadako. June parted ways with the two remaining sisters in 2002, four years before her death. Anita eventually left in 2015.
In addition to sisters Ruth and Anita, Bonnie is survived by her two older brothers, Aaron and Fritz.
— With files from the Associated Press
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