The youngest member of the hitmaking R&B act the Pointer Sisters, June Pointer scored a handful of solo hits but enjoyed her greatest success in collaboration with her siblings, notching a series of crossover smashes including "Jump (For My Love)," "He's So Shy," and "I'm So Excited." Born November 30, 1954, in Oakland, CA, June was the youngest of six children. As a child she and her siblings sang in the choir of the West Oakland Church of God, where their parents served as ministers. By the age of 13, June was singing professionally with her sister Bonnie in a nightclub duo dubbed Pointers, a Pair. Around this time she also began battling the substance abuse demons that haunted her throughout her life. With the 1969 addition of sister Anita, the act rechristened itself the Pointer Sisters. Another sister, Ruth, soon expanded the lineup to four. Following an ill-fated tour of Texas, the group returned to the Bay Area to sign a management contract with the legendary impresario Bill Graham; after studio sessions in support of Boz Scaggs and Taj Mahal, the Pointer Sisters signed to Atlantic Records in 1971. Eschewing contemporary material and clad in vintage World War II-era fashions, the group's unique blend of soul, jazz, and gospel earned critical raves and launched their self-titled 1973 debut LP to success on both the pop and R&B charts, highlighted by the number 11 hit "Yes We Can Can." The follow-up, That's a Plenty, even generated the country radio smash "Fairytale," and in 1974 the Pointers were the first African-American women to play Nashville's legendary Grand Ole Opry.
A series of hit singles including "How Long (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side)" and "Going Down Slowly" further established the Pointer Sisters' commercial appeal, and in 1976 the group appeared in the feature film [RoviLink="VW"]Car Wash. But as June's struggles with drugs and alcohol intensified and her behavior grew increasingly erratic, her sisters asked her to leave the group; she returned in the wake of Bonnie Pointer's 1977 decision to break ranks and mount a solo career, at which time the remaining trio abandoned their thrift-store image for Bob Mackie-designed gowns and dumped their jazz-inspired repertoire in favor of contemporary pop. Upon introducing the new approach with 1978's Energy, the Pointer Sisters scored their biggest hit to date when their sultry cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" reached number two on the pop charts. The follow-up, "Happiness," was also a major hit. The Pointer Sisters were a fixture of the hit parade throughout the first half of the decade to follow, reeling off blockbuster after blockbuster including 1980's "He's So Shy," 1981's "Slow Hand," and 1982's "I'm So Excited." In 1983, June also issued her debut solo effort, Baby Sister, reaching the R&B Top 40 with the single "Ready for Action." While the record failed to meet commercial expectations, its funky, slick approach nevertheless anticipated the sensibility of the Pointer Sisters' next effort, 1984's Break Out, which generated three Top Five singles: "Automatic," "Jump (For My Love)," and "The Neutron Dance" (also featured on the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy smash [RoviLink="VW"]Beverly Hills Cop).
Break Out proved the Pointer Sisters' most successful LP, going triple platinum and earning a pair of Grammy Awards. In conjunction with the release of its 1985 follow-up, Contact, June posed for Playboy magazine, but the album failed to match the success of its predecessor. After issuing Hot Together in late 1986, the Pointers headlined their own NBC television special, [RoviLink="VW"]Up All Night. But as the decade waned, their commercial fortunes plummeted, and in the wake of 1988's Serious Slammin', the siblings exited their longtime home, RCA, for Motown. In 1989 June also signed a solo deal with Columbia, teaming with executive producer Carole Bayer Sager to release her self-titled sophomore solo effort and notching the R&B hit "Tight on Time (I'll Fit U In)." The Pointer Sisters spent the 1990s out of the mainstream spotlight, and in 1994 announced an extended hiatus from the recording industry proper when they agreed to star in a worldwide touring revival of the Fats Waller stage musical Ain't Misbehavin. By 2000 June was out of the group altogether -- addicted to crack and Xanax, she eventually entered a Los Angeles rehabilitation program, but the Pointer Sisters continued on without her, tapping Ruth's daughter Issa to fill the void. June later went public with her personal struggles, but proved unable to get her performing career back on track. In 2004, she was arrested on possession charges, and returned to custody just weeks later when a boyfriend filed assault charges. After suffering a stroke and battling cancer, June died in Los Angeles on April 11, 2006, at the age of 52. ~ Jason Ankeny
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