Pointer Sister Climbed the Charts While Hitting Rock Bottom
Produced by Julie Blim
The 700 Club
Interview by Scott Ross
The 700 Club
The Pointer Sisters released their first album in 1973 and are still performing today – 42 years later! Their long string of hits in the 70s and 80s made them pop superstars. The music industry was a world away from their upbringing. Their father and mother, both pastors, were very loving, but very strict. Ruth Pointer shares her story in the new book Rock and a Heart Place.
RUTH: “I’m the oldest sister. So I had to set the example.” [laughs]
SCOTT: “You loved it…”
RUTH: “I hated it.”
SCOTT: “Oh really? Why?”
RUTH: “Because I just wanted to be free to be myself and I felt like I had to not be myself in order to be the person that they were trying to make me to be, which was the perfect, you know, the perfect child that – to set the example for the other kids in the congregation, for my younger sisters, and I just resented it.”
SCOTT: “How did you break out of that then?”
RUTH: “I rebelled terribly, you know, once I became a teenager and really, really got into [laughs] a lot of trouble.”
SCOTT: “How'd your parents handle that?”
RUTH: “She would just say things like … ‘I’m praying for you, Baby. I love you and I'm praying for you.’"
Ruth got the idea to sing as sisters from friends.
RUTH: “I would go to their house and hang out and saw them singing and came back home and told my sisters, ‘You know, we could do that.’"
So the girls honed their harmony and started singing in church.
RUTH: “It was a training ground because singing in the choir you had to learn the different parts of the choir, the soprano, the alto, the tenor, and the bass.”
Ruth had already married and left home by the time her sisters decided to form a professional group. Before long, Ruth was divorced, raising kids, working as a keypunch operator, and seeking comfort in substances.
RUTH: “My sisters, I believe, had a whole different agenda going on for them. But I had been in a very rough world myself with the drugs and alcohol and I was really just trying to survive.”
After Ruth joined the group full time, they got their big break singing at the Troubadour in ‘73. And that was it. Over the next dozen years, The Pointer Sisters went on to record 13 top 20 hits. As the group climbed the charts, Ruth was fighting her demons.
SCOTT: “You had mentioned earlier that the drugs and the alcohol, how prevalent did that become and how did it affect you?”
RUTH: “Oh, it became very prevalent in my life, you know. I became really addicted to cocaine and alcohol and a lot of it had to do with me wanting to fit in, weight control, and fitting in with the social scene that was going on in Los Angeles.”
Drugs weren’t the only thing she had problem with.
SCOTT: “You mentioned this in the book that you went through a few husbands?”
RUTH: “A few." [laughs]
SCOTT: “You and Liz Taylor?”
RUTH: “Oh! Yes! Oh, my God. I used to call myself the black Liz.” [laughs]
SCOTT: “But you're married now.”
RUTH: “I'm married now.”
SCOTT: “How long you been married to this present husband?”
RUTH: “It'll be 25 years this year.
SCOTT: “So it worked.”
RUTH: “Well, it worked because I've been sober – met him when I was three years sober.”
Ruth’s journey to sobriety started with a wake up call.
SCOTT: “At some juncture didn’t a doctor tell you if you didn’t change your lifestyle you were going to die?”
After two trips to rehab and several years of recovery, she got over her addictions. But it would take a brush with death just two years later for her to rededicate her life to God.
RUTH: “I started thinking about my life and how I'd been kept for so long, through so much, without any doing of my own. And so I just, at that moment, decided, ‘Okay, it's okay. If I don't come back from this, I know that I’m a child of God right now, and I'm asking God to forgive me.’ The next thing I knew I was waking up and my young daughter was standing over me saying ‘Mom, mom, you’re okay. They didn’t find any cancer. You’re fine, mom.’ From that time on there was this unspeakable joy that I can't even explain that put me in a place in God’s love that I never knew existed before.”
Today she’s still at it and has a whole new appreciation for life.
RUTH: “I enjoy my performances more than I think I ever have in my entire life at this age. I’m grateful today. I’m really just grateful that I’ve had this opportunity.”
SCOTT: “Why did you choose to tell the story? I mean, what should people gain from hearing this?”
RUTH: “I just hope that people that feel hopeless, you know, and there's so many people I believe today that are lost and don't believe that there's any hope for them. If there's hope for me, there's hope for anybody.”
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