Frank Farian, the German record producer behind Milli Vanilli, Boney M and other pop groups died on Tuesday at his home in Miami. He was 82.
Born in 1941 as Franz Reuther, he began his career in music in the ’60s, adopting the name Frank Farian for his first band Frankie Boys Schatten. After a moderately successful pop career in Germany, Farian got his first taste of international success with Boney M, a pseudonym that he eventually turned into a group featuring singers Bobby Farrell, Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett. Boney M’s string of hits included “Daddy Cool”, “Rivers of Babylon” and “Rasputin.”
Boney M dissolved at the end of the ’80s and Farian replicated their success with Milli Vanilli using studio musicians and singers for the recorded songs but recruiting Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan as the public face of the group. Milli Vanilli achieved almost instantaneous success, with multiple #1 singles worldwide and a Grammy win for Best New Artist in 1990. It wasn’t long after the Grammys when it came to light that not only were Rob & Fab lip-synching at concerts, they didn’t sing on the records either. The Grammy was revoked and that was pretty much the end of Milli Vanilli. The 2023 Paramount+ documentary about Milli Vanilli is worth watching.
Despite being the svengali behind Milli Vanilli, Frank Farian mostly survived the scandal unscathed, and went to on to create other groups including Far Corporation, La Bouche, and more, and produced stage musical Daddy Cool in the mid-’00s.