Milli Vanilli Didn't Sing Its Pop Hits

By The Associated Press
The New York Times

November 16, 1990

The band Milli Vanilli did not do the singing on its debut album, "Girl You Know It's True," which sold seven million copies, the producer and arranger of the hit recording said Wednesday.

"The record company never knew that," said Frank Farian, the German producer of the record. "I never told them anything. Later on, after the record was out, there were some people who raised some questions."

The questions were not answered when the band won a 1989 Grammy for best new artist. Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan became international stars, lip-synching their way through television and concert appearances.

"Girl You Know It's True" and "Blame It on the Rain" were huge hit singles for the band.

Michael Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, said the band may lose its Grammy.

"If there's been a substantial, fraudulent, misrepresentation of the entity, I think there is a high likelihood that the academy would have to take some action," Mr. Greene said from Los Angeles.

He added that no one had been stripped of a Grammy in its 33 years.

Singers Ask to Sing

Mr. Farian said he decided to make the deception public when the singers told him they wanted to sing on the follow-up to "Girl You Know It's True."

"I said, 'No. I don't go for that,' " Mr. Farian said. "Sure, they have a voice, but that's not really what I want to use on my records."

Asked about Mr. Farian's disclosure, Ray Lott, vice president for operations at Arista, the label that sold "Girl You Know It's True," said:

"Embarrassing?" he said. "I don't mean the end justifies the means. But we sold seven million albums."

Mr. Lott said there was no reason to doubt Mr. Farian's report. "I certainly assume the producer would know who sang on the record," he said.

How It Started

Mr. Farian said the idea to hire Mr. Pilatus and Mr. Morvan as front men for the band came to him when they arrived at his studio in Germany shortly after the recording of "Girl You Know It's True."

"It suddenly clicked in my mind, and it was kind of evident: I had the music, there were the people who wanted to perform outside," Mr. Farian said. "And I said, 'Hey, let's put that together and make a great record out of it.' "

Mr. Farian would not say who the real singers were but said they would appear on his next album, not a Milli Vanilli album.

Mr. Lott said Arista was unconcerned about the deception and planned to distribute Mr. Farian's new album.

Copyright 1990 The New York Times Company