“You Know Its True” : The Milli Vanilli Story

Milli Vanilli was a pop group whose debut US album ‘Girl You Know It’s True’ in 1989 went to No. 1, sold 7 million copies, and won them a Best New Artist Grammy in 1990. Here is the video of their hit single “Girl You Know It’s True” from their debut album.

The pair’s next three singles “Baby Don’t Forget My Number”, “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You” and “Blame It on the Rain” all reached number 1. But then there was a twist to their success story. Something happened which led Arista Records to drop the act from its roster and delete their album and its masters from their catalog, making it one of the largest-selling albums to ever be taken out of print. Their Grammy was revoked too.

Here is them winning Grammys.

And here’s what caused all the backlash. They were caught lip-syncing the song and they weren’t the original singers.

“When Frank Farian developed the concept of Milli Vanilli, he chose to feature vocals by Charles Shaw, John Davis, Adam Owen, and twin sisters Jodie and Linda Rocco; however, he felt that those singers lacked a marketable image. He then recruited Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, two younger model/dancers he found dancing in a Munich dance club, to front the act. Milli Vanilli’s debut album All or Nothing was released in Europe in mid-1988, with Rob and Fab’s pictures on the front and center of the albums, but no mention of who actually sang the songs. The success of the record caught the attention of Arista Records who signed the duo. Arista deleted several tracks from the original album, added several new ones (including a new track written by Diane Warren, “Blame It on the Rain”), remixed many of the tracks and renamed the album to Girl You Know It’s True for release in the American market in early 1989.”

“Unlike the international release of All or Nothing, the inserts for the American version clearly attributed the voices on the album to Morvan and Pilatus. This prompted Shaw to disclose to New York Newsday writer John Leland in December 1989 that he was one of three singers on Milli Vanilli’s hit debut 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.[4] Because of rising public questions regarding the source of who actually sang in the group, as well as the insistence of Morvan and Pilatus to Farian that they be allowed to sing on the next album, Farian confessed to reporters on November 12, 1990, that Morvan and Pilatus did not actually sing on the records. As a result of American media pressure, Milli Vanilli’s Grammy was withdrawn four days later.”

Here is their press conference from 1990 in which they claim that they forced Farian to reveal that they were not the real singers.

“Arista Records then dropped the act from its roster and deleted their album and its masters from their catalog, taking Girl You Know It’s True out of print. After these details emerged, at least 27 different lawsuits[6] were filed under various U.S. consumer fraud protection laws[7] against Pilatus, Morvan and Arista Records. One such filing occurred on November 22, 1990 in Ohio, where lawyers there 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.[7] On August 12, 1991, a proposed settlement to 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.[6] On August 28, a new settlement was approved; it refunded those who attended concerts along with those who bought Milli Vanilli recordings.[8] An estimated 10 million buyers were eligible to claim a refund and they could keep the refunded recordings as well.[8] The deadline to claim refunds passed on March 8, 1992.[9]”

The second album was released by Farian with the actual singers as the album from The Real Minnie Vanilli but the album wasn’t a hit. Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan themselves came out with an album Rob & Fab which was a failure.

“In order to restore their career, Farian agreed in 1997 to produce a new Milli Vanilli album with Morvan and Pilatus on lead vocals. This all 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 robberies and ultimately serving three months in jail in California. Farian paid for Pilatus to attend six months of drug rehabilitation and plane tickets for him to fly back to Germany. On the eve of the new album’s promotional tour on April 2, 1998, Pilatus was found dead of a suspected alcohol and prescription drug overdose in a Frankfurt hotel room.[10][11] Pilatus’ death was ruled accidental.[12]”

“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.[13]

In 2000, Fab Morvan was featured in a BBC documentary on Milli Vanilli. He was also featured in the premiere episode of VH1 Behind the Music. On February 14, 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 from 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 serves as a consultant.[14][15][16] However, in February 2011, it was announced that Milli Vanilli movie will be rewritten and directed by Florian Gallenberger.[17][18]”

Source for Content in quotes from Wikipedia

1 Comment
  1. aryan 10 years ago

    Brilliant Music video.

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