Pointer Sister Surprisingly Confesses What She Loved Most About Doing Drugs Back Then
Ruth Pointer, of The Pointer Sisters, has a new book releasing in February, titled “Still So Excited,” and in it she’s giving very extensive, and sometimes painful, details about her life. One of the painful memories Ruth reveals is her long battle with drug addiction. She preferred cocaine the most and there was one main affect that she said she truly loved about that drug at the time. Here is what Ruth explained to EastValleyTribune.com:
Q: Your 1973 debut album, The Pointer Sisters went gold and featured a Top 10 single (Yes We Can Can). How did you adjust to instant fame?
Ruth Pointer: “Not so good. Everything was happening at rocket speed once we hit, and I began losing myself in drugs, alcohol, and parties pretty much from the start. People were everywhere, many terrible influences, and it was open season on the superstar. Nobody wants to admit how impressionable they are, especially when you’re an adult who thinks they are grown up with pretty good street sense. The Pointer Sisters were on the road so much, there was hardly any time to reflect and get centered. I was being shoved along, going with the flow, getting deeper and deeper into hard partying. Everybody was doing it. It was like you were the odd person out if you didn’t get blazed, drunk, or worse. I had been the strange one — the odd duck, the preacher’s daughter — for so many years, and I didn’t want to be the strange one anymore. So I did what everybody else did to fit in, sometimes at great personal sacrifice.”
Q: The music quality and output of the Pointer Sisters was amazing – 15 Top 40 singles and almost 20 studio albums in 20 years. That takes on a whole new meaning given that you were mostly under the influence in your peak years.
RP: “You have to understand the context of the times. Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s was definitely fueled by cocaine. It was everywhere. You’d go to a restaurant, club, or party and a bowl of snow would materialize and get passed around just like an appetizer. While stopping short of endorsing its use, Time magazine was among several news outlets reporting (incorrectly, it turned out) that cocaine was not addictive and so wasn’t as bad for you as alcohol. And WHEN I FOUND OUT THAT COKE HELPED KEEP MY WEIGHT DOWN, IT BECAME ONE OF MY MAIN FOOD GROUPS . I am lucky to be alive.”
So Ruth’s weight management was based around her addiction, wow…it’s good that she did what she had to do to make permanent changes. Ruth further explained how her addiction took her through hell and back:
Q: Drugs and alcohol eventually brought you to your knees, didn’t it?
RP: “It not only brought me to my knees but nearly brought me to my deathbed. My fondness for drugs and booze had taken an awful toll. It wore down my immune system and I had contracted viral meningitis and on July 4th weekend 1984, I was rushed to the hospital. When I woke up I had no idea where I was or how I’d gotten there. There was a doctor standing at my bedside and his first words were, “Whatever lifestyle you’re living right now needs to change, because otherwise you’re not going to be around for very long.” As I lay in that hospital bed I took a way overdue honest look at myself and saw a horrifying picture. I’d been a rebellious daughter, AWOL parent, so-so sister, alcoholic, drug addict, and overall pretty poor excuse for a human being. It was time to get my act together. I’ve now been clean and sober for more than three decades, and every day above ground is a good day. Life is a gift and a blessing.”
Ruth also revealed that she thinks her parents’ extremely religious teachings is what ultimately drove she and her sisters to drugs, due to their sheltered life as kids. Here’s how she described her parents’ affect on her:
“It wasn’t an entirely unhappy upbringing, but it sure was filled with pressure, disappointments and unrealistic expectations handed down to me from my mother and father — both of whom were ministers of fear and flawlessness. I’m not knocking the ministry. All I’m saying is that it’s hard to feel like a normal kid when the word “no” is the most constant word in your household. No lipstick. No fingernail polish. No makeup. No skirts above the knees. No jewelry. No records. No movies. No dancing. No dating. And that ain’t no fun.”
What Ruth said about her parents’ tight leash on she and her siblings is a valid point that often goes overlooked. The reason for that is probably because we’re so accustomed to criticizing parents for not doing enough to raise their children, that we forget about the parents who may be doing way too much, which can ultimately have the exact same affect as the parents who did too little. I always say if parenting came with one universal handbook, we’d all be better people and better parents, but unfortunately it doesn’t. It sounds like The Pointer Sisters’ parents did what they knew how to do and were trying to protect their kids, but it was probably just a little too much. Their children achieved high levels of greatness, but also some severe lows as a result. At the same rate, once we become adults who know better, we also have to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions that are a result of our childhood. We appreciate Ruth for being able to say what many people would have been afraid to say publicly.