The Pointer Sisters began in the Oakland, CA area as a quartet. Sisters Bonnie, Ruth, Anita,and June Pointers were the daughters of a minister who initially indoctrinated them into the world of Gospel music. But with the emergence of the counterculture in the Bay Area in the 1960s, they gravitated toward secular music.
In 1971, they debuted as the Pointer Sisters doing a retro '40s fashion look mixed with a decidedly New Orleans R&B feel. They had their first hit single with a cover of Allen Toussaint's "Yes We Can Can." The ladies received both media and commercial success, but still remained a cult act through the first half of the 1970s. They did write and record an R&B flavored country song called "Fairytale," which got them an invitation to perform at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, and subsequently Elvis Presley cut the song himself. In 1978, Bonnie Pointer left to pursue a solo career and signed with Motown, where she found limited success on her own. The three remaining Pointers refashioned themselves with a more contemporary pop groove. They signed with producer Richard Perry and his Planet Records, a subsidiary of Elektra Records.
Their first LP was Energy, released in 1979, which scored a pop hit with "Fire," written for the Pointer Sisters by Bruce Springsteen. The success of that record led to several other platinum hits and albums, including the songs "He's So Shy," "Slow Hand," "Automatic," and "I'm So Excited." The group continued as a hit making machine through most of the 1980s, but by the 1990s, demand for the trio had waned. They embarked on a 46-city tour as part of the musical Ain't Misbehavin' in 1995 before returning to their own solo careers and work as a group.
A long battle with drugs forced Anita and Ruth to oust June from the group in 2004, bringing in Ruth's adult daughter as her replacement until she could conquer her demons. Unfortunately, she died of cancer in 2006 before rejoining the group. She was 52.