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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A good question

Whatever happened to Milli Vanilli?

Dear Yahoo!:
Whatever happened to Milli Vanilli?
Millie V.
Mill Valley
Dear Millie V.:
Bios from allmusic and Wikipedia tell the ludicrious but tragic tale of Milli Vanilli. In the late '80s, German music producer Frank Farian saw gold in the "exotic looks" of two "aspiring models and former breakdancers," Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan. He hired them to front an album of Euro dance/rap songs on which they didn't sing, but lip-synced in live appearances. The public was kept in the dark. The album, "Girl You Know It's True," featured three number-one hits, "despite near-universal critical distaste."

Even as rumors of the truth emerged, Milli Vanilli won a 1990 Grammy for Best New Artist. Pilatus and Morvan lobbied to sing on the next production, but producer Farian came clean before that could happen. An uproar ensued, the duo's Grammy was rescinded, and a class-action suit was filed against Arista Records, which fired the group and dropped the album from its catalog.

Pilatus took the reversal of fortune hard, slashing his wrist and threatening suicide. The duo re-formed and recorded as Rob and Fab in 1993, but the album sold a paltry 2,000 copies. In 1996, Pilatus was sentenced to several months in jail for various offenses, including assault. In 1998, he was found in a Frankfurt hotel room, dead from mixing pills and alcohol. Morvan fared better, becoming a studio musician, Los Angeles DJ, and solo artist. A different take on the Milli Vanilli saga can be found on his web site. A film about Milli Vanilli is in the works.

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