Frank Farian, Controversial Producer Behind “Milli Vanilli,” Dies at 82

Frank Farian, Controversial Producer Behind “Milli Vanilli,” Dies at 82

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Frank Farian, the German producer & songwriter who made Milli Vanilli one of pop music’s most famous (and infamous) acts, has died at the age of 82.

His family confirmed to BBC News on Tuesday (Jan. 24) that Farian passed away at his home in Miami. A cause of death was not given at press time, but he did receive a heart valve transplant in 2022.

Farian first rose to prominence with 70s disco-pop group Boney M., co-writing, promoting and singing lead vocals on many tracks. The group’s biggest hit was 1979’s “Daddy Cool,” which peaked at #6 on the UK charts and #65 on the US Hot 100.

Farian also produced albums for artists such as Meat Loaf and Stevie Wonder, selling an estimated 800 million records.

However, his biggest impact (and scandal) came with the formation of Milli Vanilli in 1988. Consisting of Fabrice “Fab” Morvan and Rob Pilatus (on-screen, anyway), the group had a string of hits, including three #1 singles.

The group became one of the biggest pop acts of the late 80s and early 90s, eventually winning a Grammy in 1990 for Best New Artist.

However, that same year, it was discovered that Rob and Fab did not sing on any of the records. Instead, it was a group of session singers that Farian organized to provide the vocals. The duo’s Grammy was revoked and they eventually were blackballed.

The scandal was revisited in a well-received documentary (now on Paramount+). A Milli Vanilli biopic was also released in Germany last December.

Despite the controversy, Farian continued to work. He developed Eurodance group La Bouche (best known for their 1995 hit “Be My Lover”) and worked with the likes of Sananda Maitreya (f.k.a. Terence Trent D’Arby) and Precious Wilson.


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