- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

June Pointer, 52,of singing singers act

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — June Pointer, youngest of the four Pointer Sisters who went from teenage gospel singers to the top of the pops with such hits of the 1970s and ‘80s as “Fire,” “Slow Hand,” “Jump (For My Love),” and “I’m So Excited,” has died of cancer at age 52, a family spokesman said yesterday.

Two sisters, Ruth and Anita, and two brothers, Aaron and Fritz, were at her side at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., when she died, the spokesman said.

Her third sister, Bonnie, was unable to be present, the spokesman said. The type of cancer was not disclosed.

The sisters learned to sing in the choir of a church in West Oakland, Calif., where their parents were ministers.

They began as a quartet in the 1970s and become a trio when Bonnie left to pursue a solo career.

“The Pointer Sisters,” their first album, was issued in 1973 with what turned out to be their first hit, “Yes We Can Can,” a cover of an Allen Toussaint song.

Two years later, they topped the R&B; charts with “How Long (Betcha’ Got A Chick on the Side).”

Their second album, “That’s A Plenty” in 1974, included a country-and-western tune “Fairytale,” which led to their winning the first of their three Grammys, this one for best country vocal performance by a group.

Thanks to that song, they became the first black female group to sing at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. “Fairytale” later was covered by Elvis Presley.

Bonnie left the group in the late 1970s to pursue a solo career, and the sisters became a trio making several successful albums, most notably 1984’s “Break Out” which won two Grammy awards and contained the hit “Neutron Dance,” which was featured in the film “Beverly Hills Cop.”

It was not the first time that a Pointer Sisters song made the movies — in 1976, they appeared with Richard Pryor in the movie “Car Wash,” which had their song “You Gotta Believe” on the soundtrack.

The sisters’ cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire” was also a major hit for the trio.

In 2004, June Pointer, who made two albums as a solo artist, was charged with cocaine possession and placed in a rehabilitation program.

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