Remembering Milli Vanilli

Former Milli Vanilli member Fab Morvan recently made headlines, explaining what happened with the Grammy award the group ended up returning back in 1990. It was a fitting reminder of one of the music industry’s biggest blunders to date, and a true story for the ages.

Milli Vanilli started when German music producer Frank Farian recruited Munich-based performers Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus for his project. He signed them up to contracts, but then told them they wouldn’t actually be singing on any of his songs; he just needed them to lip sync. Farian recruited a range of different singers and rappers for the project, getting Morvan and Pilatus to mime to the songs on music videos and live shows.

The duo blew up internationally in 1988 after the release of their debut single, ‘Girl You Know It’s True’. The song skyrocketed to #2 on US charts, and was followed up with #1 single ‘Baby Don’t Forget My Number’. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before their secret was exposed.

Milli Vanilli had everything; killer leather jackets, model looks (complete with chiseled abs), and intricate dance routines. Their songs were super catchy, and people loved them. They sold millions of copies of their debut album, won a Grammy, and had a solid couple of years before it all came crashing down.

Doubts began to stir when the duo’s first interview on MTV aired. Their thick German accents and basic grasp of the English language meant they didn’t sound anything like their musical recordings. A little later down the track, during a live MTV performance, their backing track skipped, and they ran offstage.

And then, it all went down when one of the actual singers from the recordings revealed they’d been using his voice. Continued public pressure then led to producer Farian confessing the whole gag.

Milli Vanilli were disgraced, and the Grammy’s asked them to return their award. However, Morvan is now saying the duo voluntarily returned the Grammy themselves, saying, “We didn’t sing on the record. That is 100 percent, so we wanted to give it back. It was the right thing to do. And to this day it got twisted (and people thought) the Grammys wanted it back, when in fact we were the first to say, ‘We want to give it back.’”

For all the drama and the spectacle, ‘Girl You Know It’s True’ is actually one heck of a song, and it’s a fascinating piece of pop’s historical landscape. Watch the classic video below: