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This is the first band in history that had to return the Grammy Award.  Whoever bought their album could get their money back

This is the first band in history that had to return the Grammy Award. Whoever bought their album could get their money back

Today we celebrate another anniversary of Milli Vanilli receiving the Grammy Award. The duo was the first in history to have to return their statuette. The story of artist fraud changed the global music market forever.

“The Grammy Award for Best Newcom goes to Milli Vanilli!” – heard the guests gathered at the legendary Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on February 21, 1990. The duo’s happiness did not last long. After a few months, the members of Milli Vanilli became the first artists in history to receive a Grammy Award.

Behind the success of the German group Milli Vanilli is a certain Frank Farian. The producer was previously responsible for creating Boney M. – a 1970s disco band that boasts 100 million records sold worldwide. In the late 1980s, Farian heard a single by the Baltimore band Numarx. He immediately noticed the potential for considerable earnings.

The Milli Vanilli duo fooled the whole world. They are the first band in history to return a Grammy

The producer hired backing vocalists and recorded a demo version of “Girl You Know It’s True”, a Numarx song that was becoming increasingly popular in German clubs. He hoped that he would soon find a pair of singers who would complete the hit. At the time, Fab Morgan and Rob Pilatus were a pair of dancers who aspired to be singers. They approached Farian, but he noticed that the men looked much better than they sang. In a 1990 interview with the Washington Post, he said that the duo sang like many other singers, but did not have enough skills. Apparently this wasn’t an insurmountable obstacle.

Instead of investing in singing lessons, working on their skills and sharing knowledge and experience, Farian ended up recording “Girl You Know It’s True” with other singers who were listed on the album as the authors of backing vocals. Milli Vanilli’s debut album “All or Nothing”, also known by the title of the previously mentioned song, was released in 1988. It included information that Rob and Fab were a band, although neither of them composed or sang any notes on the album.

The album was a huge success, selling 30 million copies and earning the band a Grammy Award. Rumors that Milli Vanilli’s vocalists were deceiving themselves as singing appeared in 1989. The tape jammed during their concert in Bristol. At first, the artists pretended that nothing had happened, but then they quickly fled the stage. However, the fraud was concealed because the duo did not speak English, and when they were asked about the incident in interviews, they simply pretended again. This time they don’t understand what they’re talking about.

Everything changed after the 1990 Grammy Awards. Frank Farian admitted that Morgan and Pilatus did not perform the hit “Girl You Know It’s True” and did not record any vocals for the award-winning album. After the announcement of the sensational news, Milli Vanilli’s career was ruined. A week after Fariana’s statement, the Recording Academy stripped the artists of their Grammys. In turn, Arista Records removed the album from its catalog, and the American court, according to, decided that anyone who purchased it in the United States could demand a refund.

Was it worth lying like that?

“Their contract was structured in such a way that although the band’s dizzying career brought a quarter of a million dollars in profits, they did not see even a cent,” wrote Anna Gacek in the book “Ekstaza, 1990s. Beginning”. Farian tried to reactivate the band with artists who could actually be heard on the album. In turn, Morgan and Pilatus performed as the duo Rob & Fab, which did not bring them much success. “We have been carrying our cross for a long time. We were still blamed. We were victims of our own dreams of fame,” Morvan told Variety. The artist emphasized that the famous producer took advantage of their youth and naivety.

Numerous failures made Rob turn to drugs. In 1998, he was found dead in a hotel in Frankfurt, Germany. He overdosed. A petition has appeared online asking for Milli Vanilli to be awarded a Grammy again. “People took it too seriously,” commented music journalist Mitchell Cohen, who worked for their label at the time of Milli Vanilli’s popularity.

Morgan continues to strive to make music. He lives with his family in Amsterdam, composes, sings and plays instruments himself. The artist also came to terms with the history of Milli Vanilli. In an interview with “People”, he sums up: “Without this music and this journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Source: Gazeta

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