Milli Vanilli was a pop duo that rose to fame in the late 1980s with their catchy songs and dance moves. They won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1990 and sold millions of records worldwide. However, their success was short-lived when it was revealed that they did not sing any of their songs and lip-synced to the voices of other singers. This scandal shocked the music industry and the public, and led to their downfall.
How did Milli Vanilli become so popular? The duo consisted of Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, two models and dancers who met in Germany. They were recruited by producer Frank Farian, who had previously created another successful lip-syncing group, Boney M. Farian had recorded an album with several studio singers, but he needed a more attractive image to market it. He hired Morvan and Pilatus to be the faces of Milli Vanilli, and gave them a glamorous style and choreography. He also instructed them to keep the secret of their lip-syncing and pretend to be the real singers.
Milli Vanilli’s debut album, All or Nothing, was released in Europe in 1988 and became a hit. It was later repackaged as Girl You Know It’s True for the US market, where it reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart. The album spawned four top-five singles, including “Girl You Know It’s True”, “Blame It on the Rain”, “Baby Don’t Forget My Number”, and “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”. The duo performed at various shows and events, such as the MTV Video Music Awards, the American Music Awards, and the Arsenio Hall Show. They also won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1990, beating out other nominees such as Neneh Cherry, Indigo Girls, Soul II Soul, and Tone Lōc.
How did Milli Vanilli’s lip-syncing scandal come to light? The first sign of trouble came in July 1989, when Milli Vanilli performed at a live concert in Bristol, Connecticut. During their performance of “Girl You Know It’s True”, the backing track skipped repeatedly, exposing their lip-syncing. Morvan and Pilatus tried to cover up the incident by running off stage, but the damage was done. The media began to question their authenticity and credibility, and rumors started to circulate that they were not the real singers.
The final blow came in November 1990, when Farian confessed to reporters that he had hired Morvan and Pilatus as frontmen for his project, and that they did not sing on any of their songs. He also announced that he was firing them from Milli Vanilli and taking back their Grammy Award. Morvan and Pilatus held a press conference shortly after, where they admitted to their deception and apologized to their fans. They also claimed that they were victims of Farian’s scheme and that they wanted to sing for real. However, their reputation was ruined and their career was over.
What happened to Milli Vanilli after the scandal? Morvan and Pilatus tried to rebuild their career by releasing a new album in 1991 under the name Rob & Fab. The album featured their own vocals, but it was a commercial failure and received negative reviews. They also faced several lawsuits from record companies, publishers, producers, and fans who felt cheated by their fraud. They lost most of their money and fame, and struggled with personal problems such as drug addiction, depression, and legal troubles.
In 1997, Morvan and Pilatus reunited with Farian and attempted a comeback as Milli Vanilli. They planned to release a new album called Back and in Attack, which would feature both their own vocals and the original studio singers. However, the project was never completed due to Pilatus’ death in 1998. He was found dead in a hotel room in Frankfurt, Germany, from an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs. He was 32 years old.
Morvan continued his solo career as a singer-songwriter and DJ. He also participated in several reality shows and documentaries about Milli Vanilli’s story. He expressed his regret for his involvement in the lip-syncing scandal, but also his gratitude for his fans who supported him throughout his ordeal. He said that he learned from his mistakes and that he wanted to move on with his life.
Milli Vanilli remains one of the most infamous examples of musical deception in history. Their story is a cautionary tale of how fame can come at a high price, and how honesty is essential for artistic integrity.