Frank Farian Pioneer of Eurodisco and Controversial Creator of Milli Vanilli, Dies at 82
via BoneyM.es / YouTube
Frank Farian, the prolific German music producer, composer, and the mastermind behind the success of both Boney M and the infamous pop duo Milli Vanilli, passed away at the age of 82, as confirmed by his agency, Allendorf Media.
Boney M, an influential presence in the Eurodisco scene during the 1970s and 80s, was essentially a creation of Farian and a group of session musicians. Despite the band’s immense success with hits like “Daddy Cool” and “Rasputin,” Farian remained behind the scenes, never gracing the covers of the albums that garnered eight gold and platinum sales.
In 1988, Farian ventured into a new project
Signing dancers and singers Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan to create the R&B vocal duo Milli Vanilli. Focusing more on their visual appeal than vocal prowess, Farian produced breakout hits like “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You” and “Girl You Know It’s True,” featuring vocals from artists such as John Davis, Charles Shaw, Brad Howell, and the Rocco twins.
Despite winning the 1990 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, Milli Vanilli faced a severe setback when it was revealed that Pilatus and Morvan did not sing on the tracks. Farian admitted to this, leading to the duo being stripped of their Grammy and involved in a consumer fraud lawsuit.
Morvan acknowledged Farian’s passing, saying,
“My condolences to his family. His music will live on. We can never deny the happiness and joy it brought into this world.”
Liz Mitchell, the Jamaican-born British vocalist in the original Boney M lineup, expressed her sentiments, stating “we shared and united under a star which rose above and beyond what we ever dared to expect. I say well done to the work that we did. Rest in peace Frank.”
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Farian, in response to the Milli Vanilli scandal, displayed a mix of remorse and defensiveness.
He argued that Americans placed an excessive focus on authenticity in pop music, unlike Europe. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he remarked
“Here in Europe, everything is positive. Stars play a greater role in America. They’re taken so much more seriously. And they love the scandal. This music–it’s just for dancing!”
Reflecting on the unexpected success of Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True,” Farian confessed
“I thought, OK, it’s just for discotheques and clubs. I never thought it would be a great hit, not No. 1, not Top 10 in America. And then it was too late and I was too embarrassed to say anything.”
Born Franz Reuther in 1941, Farian initially pursued a career as a chef before entering the music scene. In 1975, he created the pseudonym Boney M, leading to a series of chart-topping hits. Farian’s influence extended to other projects like Far Corporation and collaborations with Meat Loaf.
Farian’s diverse musical career also included turning down an invitation from Michael Jackson to produce his album “Dangerous.” In 2006, he adapted Boney M’s “Daddy Cool” into a stage musical. Farian passed away at his Miami home, leaving behind a musical legacy that sparked both celebration and controversy. He is survived by his children and his long-time partner, Chinya Onyewenjo.