Milli Vanilli Meltdown Angers Former Fans
Radio stations declared themselves “Milli Vanilli Free” and former fans signed petitions denouncing the pop duo Friday after it was learned they didn’t really sing on their hit 1988 debut album.
“People are mad,” said disc jockey Paul J. Roberts of WQQK-FM in Nashville, Tenn. “After we made the announcement we took 120 calls in about an hour and 40 minutes.”
Radio station WLOL-FM in Minneapolis said it was “Milli Vanilli Free” and would no longer play the album “Girl You Know It’s True,” which earned Milli Vanilli a Grammy two years ago for best new group.
The station offered listeners an exchange of their Milli Vanilli recordings for a CD or cassette of their choice. As many as 150 people took the station up on the offer, said program director Greg Strassell.
“I’m a little disappointed, but I’m not gonna stop playing the record. It’s good stuff,” said Dan McKay, program director at KLIT-FM in Los Angeles, adding that the real singers are very good and deserve notice.
“Where are these people? Do they look like Homer Simpson or something; they can’t surface?” he asked.
Word of the deception came when Milli Vanilli’s German producer, Frank Farian, revealed in an interview this week that Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan did not sing on “Girl You Know It’s True.”
The duo’s record company, Arista Records, said they didn’t know the pair were fronts for other vocalists but were not embarrassed by the revelation.
Michael Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which administers the Grammy Awards, said he would review whether the photogenic duo deserved their 1989 Grammy.
Farian said Pilatus and Morvan did nothing more than look good and lip-sync for videos and live appearances while others did all the singing.
Milli Vanilli won three American Music Awards this year. Show spokesman Paul Shefrin said organizers have not asked the group to return the awards.
“The group known as Milli Vanilli was honored at the 1990 American Music Awards by the American record-buying public. Their record label and business associates designated Rob and Fab to represent the group and therefore the trophies were presented to them,” Shefrin said. “The only ones who could take them back from Milli Vanilli is the American public.”
Some in the recording industry were not surprised by the deception.
“Rumors have abounded for a long time about how little Milli Vanilli contributed to their album,” said Diana Baron, vice president for publicity at A&M; Records. “I don’t think anyone in the industry was surprised.”
But some fans responded with shock.
“I think they’re dirty scumbuckets,” said 9-year-old Katie Dickman of Richmond, Ind. “I used to like them, but not now.”
Reaction was muted at record stores, apparently because the album is not a current release.
“I only had one guy who called and demanded his money back,” said a clerk at Tower Records in Hollywood.