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Anita Pointer
Anita Pointer

Ramsey Embick remembers Anita Pointer and her sisters

By RAMSEY EMBBICK // Anita Pointer of the Pointer Sisters passed away on Saturday, December 31, 2022 Portland's Ramsey Embick had been their Music Director/Band Leader. He remembers those days in this piece.

I first met Anita Pointer on the third day of rehearsal for their show (The Pointer Sisters) in summer 1980 and somehow they made me feel that they were auditioning for me. Humility would be the term. They were not worried about the music, they already knew that would not be an issue. They had hired the music prep company that had prepared the music for their latest record.
I, with my recently purchased polyphonic synth (polyphonics had become available just months before and) I was the first keyboard player in the cattle call that could play and program “He’s So Shy” hence my role in the meet and greet. I had no idea that I was about to embark on a life changing path for more than four years that included sharing a bus with Anita, Ruth and June Pointer.
They became way more than bus mates - truly family, but it was around the work that Anita and company (the girls, female singers in a choir are called “girls”, it is not a sexist thing) was the most mind blowing. There were in the 80’s literally thousands of one nighters and the three of them would get up at some ungodly hour, sometimes after all night on a bus and do ‘drive-time' radio interviews for every one of those gigs. I have no idea how they had the energy for that but they did. Ha!
The first record with Richard Perry producing (Planet Records) was called “Energy” hmm. . .It included their first big hit after 'Yes We Can Can’ six years before - a million seller for which they did not receive a penny of royalties. You almost wonder how they survived that - well they didn’t. They had broken up and gone separate ways. Bonnie with Motown, June had gotten a deal with Barbara Streisend's Label and Anita had teamed up with Ruthie and were recording “Energy” at 'Studio 55’ on Melrose. I’m pretty sure it was Richard’s idea to give June a call and see if she would help with background vocals. Days later Richard had June singing lead on one of the songs and that’s when the lawyers got involved. The first release from that project was a wee song that Bruce Springsteen had penned called ‘Fire”. Anita sang lead and the song went to #2 on the pop charts in 1978. 
At one point we were in Corpus Cristi on a private gig for significantly more money than usual - the engagement was in a cave, yes a cave! It was for a debutant party of an oil magnate’s daughter - I guess they have some of those in Texas. Anyway the electricity goes out and Voila, "I’m So Excited" becomes drums, acoustic piano and un-miked  vocals - no guitars, no bass, no electronic keyboards, no Hammond B3 . . there was no stopping them, they made light of it and shortly there after the power comes on and after some show biz banter they acted like it was part of the routine. I’m a bit surprised there weren't bats as well! 
While in Corpus Cristi (not sure what folks do there for spare time - Pointer Sister concerts?) I ended up hanging out with my three friends after a short rehearsal for their singing part in a Chevy ad. Of course I begged to have one of the gifted Corvettes that they may or may not have gotten as part of their endorsement.
I steered the conversation to earlier times and asked if they knew Taj Mahal. Their response was a highly spirited “We love Taj”  - you could never call the sounds they made ‘squealing’, not one of the them squealed at anything but they were funny and on occasion loud (adorably loud). Then I asked if they had worked with him - same response "We love Taj”. I then said "you know I’m from Portland, OR right?” and this time the response was wide eyes and a breathless Nooo!. . . "You know I saw you guys“. . . They had been teasing me about an encounter with a young lady and Anita demanding full knowledge of any progress of which fortunately there was zero. Anita says with mild horror that it was their first gig with Taj and there had been no rehearsal. I made an expletive and told them flat out that they were the the hottest thing I had seen on stage up to that time and the best sounding thing I had heard to date and that included the Mahavishnu Orchestra for whom Taj was the opening act.
I think the greatest and most valuable trait in a business like show biz, or any other business, is trust. I asked my bosses collectively why they picked me to be Music Director/Band Leader and Anita said “because we trust you" - I also trusted them.

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Emita Hill

Great memory, Ramsey, and great tribute. I saw the obit and immediately thought of you. Nothing more precious than trust.

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