Milli Vanilli

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Milli Vanilli
Milli Vanilli and C. Michael Greene.jpg
Fab Morvan (left) and Rob Pilatus (right) with NARAS President C. Michael Greene (center), February 1990
Background information
Also known as Rob & Fab
Origin Munich, West Germany
Genres Dance pop, new jack swing, R&B, funk, Eurodance, hip hop
Years active1988–1990, 1997–1998
Labels Arista, Hansa
Associated acts The Real Milli Vanilli, Rob & Fab
Past membersRepresentative:
Fab Morvan
Rob Pilatus
Charles Shaw
Brad Howell
John Davis
Jodie Rocco [1]
Linda Rocco
Frank Farian

Milli Vanilli was a German R&B duo from Munich. The group was founded by Frank Farian in 1988 and consisted of Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus. The group's debut album, titled All or Nothing in Europe and reconfigured as Girl You Know It's True in the United States, achieved international success and earned them a Grammy Award for Best New Artist on 21 February 1990. [2]

Contemporary R&B is a music genre that combines elements of rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk, hip hop and electronic music.

Munich Capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Frank Farian German record producer and songwriter

Frank Farian is a German record producer and songwriter, best known as the founder and voice behind the 1970s' disco-pop group Boney M. and as the mastermind and voice behind the lip-syncing group Milli Vanilli. His tendency to create bands with a visual image distinct from the recorded musical performances has led to controversy throughout his career, especially in the case of Milli Vanilli. Farian is also the owner of the record label MCI and several subsidiaries.


Milli Vanilli became one of the most popular pop acts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with millions of records sold. However, their success quickly turned to infamy when Morvan, Pilatus, and their agent Sergio Vendero confessed that Morvan and Pilatus did not sing any of the vocals heard on their music releases. The duo ended up giving back the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. [3] [4] [5] The group recorded a comeback album in 1998 titled Back and in Attack, but the album was never released after Rob Pilatus died at the age of 32. [6]

Beginnings, 1988

According to VH1's Behind the Music , the single "Girl You Know It's True" was first produced by Jesse Powell and had already been completed before Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan were recruited. Frank Farian felt that no efforts should be made to refine Pilatus and Morvan's voices.

VH1 American cable television network

VH1 is an American pay television network based in New York City owned by Viacom. It was originally created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, at the time a division of Warner Communications and the original owner of MTV, and launched on January 1, 1985, in the former space of Turner Broadcasting System's short-lived Cable Music Channel.

<i>Behind the Music</i> television series

Behind the Music is a documentary television series on VH1. Each episode profiles and interviews a popular musical artist or group. The program examines the beginning of their career, their road to success and the hardships they may have encountered.

Girl You Know Its True (song) 1988 single by Milli Vanilli

"Girl You Know It's True" is a song by Milli Vanilli. Released as the lead single from Milli Vanilli's European debut album, All or Nothing, and the duo's American debut album, Girl You Know It's True, the song peaked at number one on the German Singles Chart, number two in the United States and number three in the United Kingdom, becoming one of Milli Vanilli's most successful singles.

Morvan claimed in 2011 that Farian had manipulated the two of them by giving them a small advance when he signed them. The pair spent most of it on clothes and hairstyling. Several months later, Farian called them and told them they had to lip sync to some prerecorded music or, as stated in the contract, repay the advance in full. "We were not hired, we were trapped," Morvan recalled. [7]

An advance payment, or simply an advance, is the part of a contractually due sum that is paid or received in advance for goods or services, while the balance included in the invoice will only follow the delivery. Advance payments are recorded as a prepaid expense in accrual accounting for the entity issuing the advance. Advanced payments are recorded as assets on the balance sheet. As these assets are used they are expended and recorded on the income statement for the period in which they are incurred. Insurance is a common prepaid asset, which will only be a prepaid asset because it is a proactive measure to protect business from unforeseen events.

Lip sync matching a speaking or singing persons lip movements with prerecorded sung or spoken vocals that listeners hear, either through the sound reinforcement system in a live performance or via television, computer or cinema speakers in other cases

Lip sync or lip synch is a technical term for matching a speaking or singing person's lip movements with prerecorded sung or spoken vocals that listeners hear, either through the sound reinforcement system in a live performance or via television, computer, cinema speakers, or generally anything with audio output in other cases. The term can refer to any of a number of different techniques and processes, in the context of live performances and audiovisual recordings.

Lip-syncing exposure and media backlash, 1989–1991

Beth McCarthy-Miller, then an executive with MTV, says the duo's English language skills, when they came in for their first interview with the channel, stirred doubts among those present as to whether they had sung on their records. [7] The first public sign that the group was lip-syncing came on 21 July 1989, during a live performance on MTV at the Lake Compounce theme park in Bristol, Connecticut. As they performed, the recording of the song "Girl You Know It's True" jammed and began to skip, repeatedly playing the partial line "Girl, you know it's..." through the speakers. After a brief pause, they finished the show. According to the episode of VH1's Behind the Music which profiled Milli Vanilli, Downtown Julie Brown stated that fans attending the concert seemed neither to care, nor even to notice, and the concert continued as if nothing unusual had happened.[ citation needed ] In a March 1990 issue of Time magazine, Pilatus was quoted proclaiming himself to be "the new Elvis", reasoning that by the duo's success they were more talented musically than Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger. [8] This was denied by Fab Morvan, as recently as 2017, saying that Pilatus never used those words and that the quote was taken out of context likely due to Pilatus still not having a full grasp of the English language. [9]

Beth McCarthy-Miller is an American television director. She is best known for directing Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock.

MTV American pay television channel

MTV is an American pay television channel owned by Viacom Media Networks and headquartered in New York City. The channel was launched on August 1, 1981, and originally aired music videos as guided by television personalities known as "video jockeys" (VJs). At first, MTV's main target demographic was young adults, but today it is primarily teenagers, particularly high school and college students.

Lake Compounce amusement park

Lake Compounce is an amusement park located in Bristol and Southington, Connecticut. Opened in 1846, it is the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States. It spans 332 acres (134 ha), which includes a beach and a water park called Crocodile Cove included in the price of admission. The park was acquired from Kennywood Entertainment Company by Palace Entertainment, the U.S. subsidiary of Parques Reunidos. In addition to the 14th oldest wooden roller coaster in the world, Wildcat, its newer wooden roller coaster, Boulder Dash, has won the Golden Ticket Award for the #1 Wooden Coaster in the World for five consecutive years.

Unlike the international release of All or Nothing, the inserts for the American version of the album explicitly attributed the vocals to Morvan and Pilatus. This prompted singer Charles Shaw to reveal in December 1989 that he was one of the three actual vocalists on the album and that Pilatus and Morvan were impostors. Farian reportedly paid Shaw $150,000 to retract his statements, though this did not stem the tide of public criticism. [10] Because of growing public questions as to who sang in the group, as well as Morvan and Pilatus' demand to Farian that they be allowed to sing on the next album, Farian confessed to reporters on 12 November 1990 that Morvan and Pilatus did not sing on the records. Having no intention of living a lie, Morvan and Pilatus stated their willingness to return their Grammy Award, which they ended up doing soon afterwards. However, their three American Music Awards were never returned and remain to this day in Frank Farian's possession. [11]

Charles Shaw is an American rapper and singer who, in 1988, performed on recordings credited to Milli Vanilli.

After these details emerged, different lawsuits [12] were filed under various U.S. consumer fraud protection laws [13] against Arista Records, Pilatus and Morvan. One such filing occurred on 22 November 1990, in Ohio, where lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit asking for refunds on behalf of a local woman in Cuyahoga County, who had bought Girl You Know It's True. At the time the lawsuit was filed, it was estimated at least 1,000 Ohio residents had bought the album. [13] On 12 August 1991, a proposed settlement of a refund lawsuit in Chicago, Illinois, was rejected. This settlement would have refunded buyers of Milli Vanilli CDs, cassettes, records, or singles. However, the refunds would only be given as a credit for a future Arista release. [12] On 28 August, a new settlement was approved; it refunded those who attended concerts along with those who bought Milli Vanilli recordings. [14] An estimated 10 million buyers were eligible to claim a refund and they could keep the refunded recordings as well. [14] The deadline to claim refunds passed on 8 March 1992. [15]

Adding to the controversy, in December 1990 singer-songwriter David Clayton-Thomas sued Milli Vanilli for copyright infringement, alleging that the title song of All or Nothing used the melody from his 1968 composition "Spinning Wheel", a hit for his group Blood, Sweat & Tears. [16]

The Real Milli Vanilli, 1991–1992

The resulting album, released in Europe in early 1991, was renamed The Moment of Truth and spawned three singles, "Keep On Running", "Nice 'n Easy" and "Too Late (True Love)". A Morvan/Pilatus lookalike named Ray Horton was depicted on the cover along with the real singers: Brad Howell and John Davis. In addition, the album featured rappers Icy Bro on "Hard as Hell" and Tammy T on "Too Late (True Love)". Original members and vocalists Jodie Rocco and Linda Rocco remained on 95% of the tracks. One of four Diane Warren-penned songs that are included on The Moment of Truth, "When I Die", has been covered by several other artists, including Farian's No Mercy. For the American market, Farian chose to avoid any association with Milli Vanilli and had the tracks re-recorded with Ray Horton on the majority of lead vocals. However, The Moment of Truth was never released in that format in the USA. [17]

Try 'N' B

In 1992, RCA signed on to release the album as the debut of the newly created group Try 'N' B. The self-titled release included three additional tracks not on the Real Milli Vanilli release: "Ding Dong", "Who Do You Love", and a remake of Dr. Hook's "Sexy Eyes", and featured original Milli Vanilli vocalists Jodie Rocco and Linda Rocco. Because of significantly better sales under the name Try 'N' B in America, a slightly modified Try 'N' B debut album was released internationally. It featured guest singer Tracy Ganser, a Ray Horton lookalike named Kevin Weatherspoon, as well as Jodie Rocco and Linda Rocco. [17]

Rob & Fab, 1990–1993

Morvan and Pilatus moved to Los Angeles, California, and signed with the Joss Entertainment Group. Sandy Gallin was their manager. [18] They recorded their follow-up album under the name Rob & Fab which was financed by Taj Records in 1992 and released by Joss Entertainment in 1993. Almost all the songs on the album were written by Kenny Taylor and Fab Morvan, while Morvan and Pilatus provided the lead vocals. Werner Schüler, a German bassist and songwriter, was their producer. [19] Because of financial constraints, Joss Entertainment Group was only able to release the album in the United States, the priority market to Milli Vanilli. A single, "We Can Get It On", was made available for radio play shortly before the album's release. However, the lack of publicity, poor distribution, and their steep fall from the height of pop-culture visibility after the lip-synching scandal contributed to its failure. The album only sold around 2,000 copies.[ citation needed ]

Comeback and death of Rob Pilatus, 1997–1998

In order to restore their career, Farian agreed to produce a new Milli Vanilli album with Morvan and Pilatus on lead vocals in 1997. This led up to the recording of the 1998 Milli Vanilli comeback album Back and In Attack. Even some of the original studio singers backed the performers in their attempt to bring back some of the fame that had been shed so quickly. However, Rob Pilatus encountered a number of personal problems during the production of the new album. He turned to drugs and crime, committing a series of assaults and robberies, [20] and was ultimately sentenced to three months in jail and six months in a drug rehabilitation facility in California. Farian bailed Pilatus out of jail and paid for the rehab and plane tickets for him to fly back to Germany. [21] [ better source needed ] On the eve of the new album's promotional tour on 2 April 1998, Pilatus was found dead of a suspected alcohol and prescription drug overdose in a hotel room in Frankfurt, Germany. [22] [23] His death was ruled accidental. [24]

As a result Back and In Attack remains unreleased and the tour was cancelled. The recordings are assumed to have been destroyed.[ citation needed ]

Fab Morvan's solo career

Morvan spent the following years as a session musician and public speaker while working on writing and performing his new music. In 1998, he was a DJ at famed L.A. radio station KIIS-FM. During this period he also performed at the station's sold-out 1999 Wango Tango festival concert before 50,000 people at Dodger Stadium. Morvan then spent 2001 on tour before performing in 2002 as the inaugural performer at the brand-new Velvet Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, Florida. In 2003, Morvan released his first solo album, Love Revolution . He marketed the album through his website and CD Baby.

In April 2011, Morvan released the single "Anytime" on iTunes. [25]

Later developments

In 1991, Pilatus and Morvan appeared in a commercial for Carefree Sugarless Gum, which parodied their lip-syncing fiasco. They also appeared in an episode of the Super Mario Bros. cartoon and even signed with a PR firm in hopes of breaking into acting. As they told the L.A. Times , "We think we have the potential to become actors. After all, we got a lot of practice while we were in Milli Vanilli. But the most important thing to us now is the new album." [26]

The duo was featured (and interviewed) for the premiere episode of VH1 's Behind the Music in 1997.

In 2000, Fab Morvan was featured in a BBC documentary titled It Takes Two: The Story of the Pop Duo about musical duos.

On 14 February 2007, it was announced that Universal Pictures was developing a film based on the story of Milli Vanilli's rise and fall in the music industry. Jeff Nathanson, screenwriter for Catch Me If You Can , producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, and producer executive Adam Yoelin, were supposed to write and direct the film while Fab Morvan served as a consultant. [27] [28] However, in February 2011, it was announced the Milli Vanilli movie would be rewritten and directed by Florian Gallenberger. [29] [30] The documentary "Milli Vanilli: From Fame to Shame" was eventually directed by German Oliver Schwehm, and produced by Hannah Lenitzki from Bremedia Produktion, released in 2016. [31]

In January 2014, the actual Milli Vanilli singers—Jodie Rocco and Linda Rocco, John Davis and Brad Howell—filmed an in-depth interview with the producers of Oprah: Where Are They Now for OWN TV. The show aired in the US on Friday, 21 February 2014.[ citation needed ] [32]

In 2015 TMZ reported that Fab Morvan was working on an album with John Davis, one of the original Milli Vanilli singers, called Face Meets Voice. [33]


Studio albums

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32nd Annual Grammy Awards award ceremony

The 32nd Annual Grammy Awards were held in 1990. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year.

Fab Morvan French singer

Fabrice Morvan is a French singer-songwriter, rapper, dancer and model. He was half of the pop duo Milli Vanilli, with Rob Pilatus, selling multi-platinum albums around the world. However, he was later involved in one of the largest scandals in pop music history when it was revealed that neither he nor Pilatus had actually sung on any of Milli Vanilli's recordings. After the scandal, the group reformed as Rob & Fab in the 1990s with limited success. Morvan had a solo comeback in the 2000s releasing his first solo album, Love Revolution.

Rob Pilatus German singer, dancer, model

Robert Pilatus was a German born model, dancer and singer. Pilatus was a member of the pop music duo Milli Vanilli, alongside Fabrice Morvan.

<i>All or Nothing</i> (Milli Vanilli album) 1988 studio album by Milli Vanilli

All or Nothing is the debut album by dance pop duo Milli Vanilli, released only in Europe on the Hansa label in November 1988. In 1989, it was repackaged and retitled Girl You Know It's True for release in the United States on the Arista label, with several of the original album tracks replaced and/or remixed. After 1990, due to lip-synching allegations, a disclaimer sticker was added on the cover to explicitly name the singers who provided vocals on the album.

<i>Love Revolution</i> (Fabrice Morvan album) album by Fab Morvan

Love Revolution, released in 2003, was Fabrice Morvan's first and only solo album, his latest since Rob & Fab, recorded with Rob Pilatus. The record was the brainchild of Morvan manager Kim Marlowe, who A&R'ed and served as executive producer on the album. All the songs were written, sung and produced by Morvan himself. The album features the song "It's Your Life", a memorial for Pilatus, their eventful career as Milli Vanilli, and was favorably reviewed in HITS magazine by Sr. Editor Roy Trakin.

Rob & Fab was a short-lived German pop and dance music duo formed and fronted by Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan in 1990, following their departure from the commercially successful but ill-fated group Milli Vanilli.

<i>The Remix Album</i> (Milli Vanilli album) 1990 remix album by Milli Vanilli

The Remix Album is an album released by Milli Vanilli in 1990. Due to the significant differences between the original Milli Vanilli debut album, All or Nothing and the US-only Girl You Know It's True release, producer Frank Farian decided to repackage these previously unreleased songs in a remix album. The album peaked at number thirty-two in the US and was certified Gold by the RIAA on July 1990.

<i>The Moment of Truth</i> (The Real Milli Vanilli album) album by The Real Milli Vanilli

The Moment of Truth is the only studio album by the pop group The Real Milli Vanilli, released in 1991.

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The Real Milli Vanilli American rhythm & blues group

The Real Milli Vanilli was a pop music group that consisted of some of the original singers from Milli Vanilli, as well as new singers and several "special guests," including Tammy T, Icy Bro and B-Sho'-Rockin'[Jodie Rocco and Linda Roccoper performed background vocals in the studio, but weren't credited nor performed live).

<i>Best of the Best</i> (Milli Vanilli album) 2006 greatest hits album by Milli Vanilli

Best of the Best is a greatest hits album by German pop duo Milli Vanilli. The album artwork featured pictures of Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan despite the 1990 scandal that confirmed neither actually sang vocals on the tracks; a sticker included as part of the packaging credits Pilatus and Morvan with "visual performances", while also listing the actual singers: Charles Shaw, John Davis, Brad Howell, and twin sisters Jodie and Linda Rocco.

Brad Howell is an American keyboardist, pianist and singer. He was the real singer behind Milli Vanilli whose voice Rob Pilatus lip-synced.

Milli Vanilli discography

This is a discography of Milli Vanilli, a pop/dance music project formed by Frank Farian in Germany in 1988, fronted by Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus.


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  30. "IFITSMOVIES – Serving you the best". Archived from the original on 15 February 2011.
  31. Milli Vanilli: From Fame to Shame IMDb, 1h documentary, 23 July 2016
  32. "Why Some of the "Real" Voices Behind Milli Vanilli Kept Quiet". OWNTV Season 3 Episode 308 Aired on February 21, 2014.
  33. "Milli Vanilli man attempts comeback – with the man who actually sang the songs". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
Individual artists involved