Pop music has always been part of a talent show, part of a magic tricks. This was never as clear as it was on November 15, 1990, when German producer Frank Farian revealed in a press conference that then-superstars Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, members of pop duo Milli Vanilli, had not sung a single note Girl You Know It's True her 1989 multi-platinum debut album.
Milli Vanilli Truthful had long speculated that Rob and Fab, two men with strong European accents and limited knowledge of the English language, were not able to. I might have hits like "Girl, of whom you know that it is true "and" accuse the rain "of being croconed. But the news was a shock to many. Milli Vanilli immediately switched from Top of the Pops to salmon stocks. Rob and Fab were freed from the Grammys they had won for Best New Artist, and betrayed fans filed class action lawsuits.
It was one of the biggest scandals in music history, though it was not an isolated case. Around the same time, the dance pop groups Black Box and C + C Music Factory were caught doing almost exactly the same thing.
"We sold our souls to the devil," Pilatus told the Los Angeles Times just days after Farian's bomb. "We lied to our families and friends. We let our fans down. We recognize exactly what we have done to achieve our success. We made some very big mistakes and apologize.
The devil in Rob and Fab's version of the story was Farian, a brilliant musician and marketer who had previously done similar stunts. In the 1
Young, attractive and hungry for success, the up-and-coming pop stars were good grades. Rob, the son of a black American soldier and a white German woman, was born in New York City, but spent the first years of his life in a Bavarian orphanage. He was adopted when he was 4 years old. Grown up in Munich, he has dealt with racism and feelings of isolation. Only through music and breakdancing did he find his identity. When he met Fab, who was raised by parents from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in Paris, he found someone with similar interests and life experiences.
"Something has clicked between us," Rob told the Los Angeles Times in July 1989, when Milli Vanilli's star was still on the rise. "Maybe it's because we're both black people who grew up in foreign cities and do not have too many blacks."
In the early days of their friendship, Rob and Fab were regular faces in the Munich club scene Rob said in an interview with VLADTV in 2017 they really wanted to make music, they started hanging out with local studio musicians in Farian's Orbit and played a few Club shows. Soon Farian himself took notice.
What happened next is the most important and controversial part of the story. Farian invited Rob and Fab to his studio and signed the duo for a record deal. The question is, did Rob and Fab know what they were getting into?
"We got caught in a trap, unaware that it was a trap," Fab told VLADTV. In his version of the events, he and Rob signed the contract, unaware that they were just hired for lip-synching and wanted to sing, and the first time Farian played them "Girl You Know It's True" – the song that would bring her international breakthrough – he presented the track as an instrumental. They did not know that Farian had already sung with professional singers.
When they learned the truth, according to Fab, they already issued Farian's advance for new clothes and their trademarked hair extensions. They were suddenly indebted to Farian and could not leave the project until they had paid him back. Once the group started and girls, drugs and money came into the picture, it became even harder for Rob and Fab to break away.
Farian claimed that Rob and Fab would never be real recording artists. "I have never heard such a bad singer," Farian said in a Los Angeles Times interview about Rob. They wanted to write songs. It never happened. Instead, they went to the nightclub until 4 o'clock in the morning and slept the whole day. Everything they ever really did was a party. Someone who lives like that can not make good music.
Despite his showbiz acumen, Farian had no idea how big the whole thing would become. "It was a crazy idea," he told the Los Angeles Times . "I thought, OK, it's only for nightclubs and clubs." But his mix of pop, R & B and hip-hop was perfect for the time, and Milli Vanilli quickly became the equivalent of the Frankenstein monster music industry.
Girl that you know is true, "went to No. 1 in Germany and made a deal with Arista Records in the US. Thanks in large part to her music videos in which the photogenic pantomimers rocked cool clothes and wielded the typical braids, Milli Vanilli scored five top 5 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Among them, three singles of # 1: "Baby, do not forget my number", "Girl, I'll miss you" and "Blame the rain". All four singles were on the album Girl You Know It's True which went six times platinum in America and sold millions more copies worldwide.
Rob and Fab struggled to live with their secret as they enjoyed the traps of fame. On July 21, 1989, a band error occurred during an MTV tour stop in Bristol, Connecticut. When the words "Girl, you know it …" were repeated over and over again, Rob panicked and ran away from the stage. The incident had no immediate effect on her career, but Rob later called the mishap "the beginning of the end".
Rob and Fab opposed Farian and demanded to sing on their next album. As the fight intensified, Farian had no choice but to convene a press conference and spill the beans. He did not apologize for the fraud and published a new studio album, The Real Milli Vanilli, d. H. The singers of the first album, was credited. Meanwhile, Arista claimed to have no prior knowledge of the deception, although Rob and Fab insisted the label knew exactly what was going on.
Days after Farian's press conference, Rob and Fab called their own. They were joined by a voice coach who assured the audience that they could sing. Rob and Fab then returned their Grammys, which they planned, even before the recording academy officially canceled the awards.
The effects on Rob and Fab were devastating. They released a self-titled comeback album in 1993 and even performed at The Arsenio Hall Show to sing in front of a national audience. But Rob & Fab flopped and the two former idols were struggling with drug addiction.
Fab eventually became sober, but Rob got out of control. In 1996, he served a prison sentence for attacking two people and breaking into a car. In 1998 he died of an overdose of drugs in a hotel room in Frankfurt. He was 33 years old.
At the time of his death, Rob apparently worked with Farian again. "I'm totally shocked," the producer told the Independent when he learned of Rob's death. "Rob looked very good again, full of optimism for the future, and we wanted to record material for another album."
Fab was not involved in this project, but he has reworked Milli Vanilli's past in his own way. In another bizarre twist of this story, Fab teamed up with John Davis, one of the real vocalists he used to sync with, for the Face Meets Voice project: Milli Vanilli's experience could make for a good ending to the film Milli Vanilli who has been working since 2007. Filming of the project was to begin when director Brett Ratner lost his contract with Warner Bros. for allegations of sexual misconduct.
] In its heyday, Milli Vanilli claimed that the band's name means "positive energy" in Turkish, which was not true: the nickname was inspired in part by the English pop group Scritti Politti, but Fab has maintained a remarkably optimistic attitude He's not just making music, he's also dedicated to speaking about motives, and his story is an example of how to "not only survive but thrive on adversity." He has certainly made peace with his own heritage. Speaking to the Associated Press in 2018, he defended his and Rob's contributions to pop culture two decades earlier.
"But look at the rest." We were the heart and soul of Milli Vanilli We did a lot of hard work, we ripped off our butts, we entertained people. "