Saturday, April 15, 2006
June Pointer R.I.P.
The youngest of the four Pointer Sisters (Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June) was born in Oakland 52 years ago. Originally managed by Bill Graham and signed to Atlantic Records by Jerry Wexler, the Pointers' 12-year run of chart-toppers began with Allen Toussaint's "Yes We Can Can" and and a sassy version of Wille Dixon's "Wang Dang Doodle" in 1973. They went though a number of labels (Blue Thumb. Planet, RCA), and always had a knack for commercial success. From "Fire" (#2, 1978) to "Slow Hand" (#2, 1981) to "I'm So Excited" (#30, 1982) to their penultimate run of hits in 1984 ("Automatic," "Jump," "I'm So Excited" and "Neutron Dance"), the Pointer Sisters were a R&B/pop force to be reckoned with. Girl groups like En Vogue and Destiny's Child that followed owed them a debt of gratitude for "pointing" the way. It's a shame they've never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
June Pointer was the troubled younger sister. She had several nervous breakdowns in the '70s and suffered lifelong drug and alcohol problems. "At one point, her behavior became so unstable that her sisters asked her to leave the group," the San Jose Mercury News reported. "She would later say that drugs had been a part of her life since she was 13 and that her substances of choice included alcohol and Valium... By 2000, Ms. Pointer's behavior had become increasingly erratic, fueled by crack cocaine and Xanax. She eventually entered a rehabilitation program. At the time, she told People magazine that her 'soul was broke,' and that she was tired of 'trying to hide my pain,' a reference to 30 years of addictions." In 2004, she was busted for cocaine and paraphernalia possession.
"At 15 years of age, June dropped out of Castlemont High School in Oakland to form the duo Pointers-A Pair with her sister Bonnie, performing in Bay Area clubs," the San Francisco Chronicle reported. "At about that time, she was raped in an East Oakland neighborhood, became pregnant, and had an abortion, according to [her brother] Fritz Pointer, sparking what would become a lifelong struggle with drug addiction for Ms. Pointer."
June's solo career include 2 albums, Baby Sister and the eponymous June Pointer. She was also featured in a Playboy pictorial.
In an effort to resurrect her career, June moved in with sister Bonnie in Los Angeles, who she last performed with at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas in December. But June suffered a stroke in February and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, liver and lungs.
"Ms. Pointer's high-pitched vocals brought vibrance to the group's songs, and her youthful enthusiasm added life to their performances," the Chronicle added. "Even off stage, Ms. Pointer was the energy of her family, her brother said, playing practical jokes and enlivening family celebrations with flamboyant costumes - Halloween was her favorite occasion - and expensive gifts.
"'It was nothing for her to hand someone $100 or $150,' Fritz Pointer said. 'I don't think money meant anything to her. It was more what she could do with it for other people.'"
For more on the Pointer Sisters: CLICK HERE