Frank Farian, Milli Vanilli Producer and Mastermind, Dies at 82

The group’s founder revealed the truth of the pop duo’s lip-synching hoax in 1989

Frank Farian, founder of Milli Vanilli (Getty Images)

German music producer Frank Farian, who founded the music band Boney M as well as pop duo Milli Vanilli, has died. Farian was 82. 

His family released a statement to media, reported by BBC on Tuesday, which stated that he died at his Miami, Florida, home.

Boney M formed in 1976, and the band went on to release hit singles like “Rasputin,” “Daddy Cool” and “Rivers of Babylon.

Milli Vanilli brought together dancers Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, who were busted for lip-synching in 1989. As founder of the group, Farian was also pulled into the scandal and buzz around it.

In 1989, Pilatus and Moran got up on stage to perform their debut hit single “Girl You Know It’s True,” in front of 80,000 people to perform at the theme park Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut. Their climb to fame spiraled the moment the chorus lyric “Girl you know it’s…” started to repeat. The lyric was never completed with the word “true,” and the line went on a loop 15 times before Pilatus panicked and ran offstage.

Farian released a statement following the incident claiming the duo had given him an ultimatum. He also blamed their “cocky attitude,” which the duo countered at a press conference. “We were seduced,” Pilatus said. “We were abused and we felt very guilty.”

Arista Records dropped the duo, deleting their entire catalog. Their Grammy, which they won for Best New Artist in 1990, was eventually revoked. They wanted to give the trophy to the true singers on the album —John Davis, Brad Howell and Charles Shaw. Pilatus was found dead at the age of 33 in Frankfurt on April 2, 1998.

Farian revealed to Reuters that neither one of the pair had sung a single note on the “Girl You Know It’s True” album. The men demanded to sing on their next album, but Farian refused to move forward with his false act.

Farian also worked with Meat Loaf and Stevie Wonder, ultimately being part of 800 million records sold worldwide.


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