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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 The duo’s Grammy was revoked and they eventually were blackballed.

After being publicly stripped of their Grammy and humiliated, Milli Vanilli became the butt of many jokes and was continuously spoofed in the following years. Morvan and Pilatus attempted a failed comeback, with “The Real Milli Vanilli,” and then they attempted solo careers that never took off. Tragically, Pilatus died of a drug overdose in 1998.

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

Morvan said in 2012 that even though his ’90s group was stripped of their awards for faking their vocals, several of music’s top artists were doing the same thing he and partner Pilatus did in their short-lived heyday.

While Morvan didn’t point any fingers, he did mention that artists who use auto-tune are pretending to sing when they actually can’t:

“There is no difference between what I did back then and what people are doing now. If you wanna break it down, people might say, ‘Well you didn’t sing’ … but the fact of the matter is … now the machines are doing it. I ain’t pointing the finger, but if you’re doing all this and you’re not performing the song live … then you’re not doing anything different from what I did.”

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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Frank Farian, Music Producer And Milli Vanilli Mastermind, Dies At 82  was originally published on