Real Milli Vanilli Singer Passes Away at 66

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The real voice behind the super pop hit duo, Milli Vanilli has died. John Davis died Monday at age 66, his daughter Jasmin Davis announced on Facebook. “He made a lot of people happy with his laughter and smile, his happy spirit, love and especially through his music,” she wrote.

“My dad passed away this evening through the coronavirus,” Davis’ daughter Jasmin posted to Facebook. “He gave so much to the world! Please give him the last round of applause. We will miss him dearly.”

German-French duo Milli Vanilli, with two handsome, young long-haired men, Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, was created by music producer Frank Farian. Their debut album, titled “All Or Nothing” released in Europe in 1988 and was repackaged as “Girl You Know It’s True” in 1989 in the U.S. The dance-pop album was a smash hit, selling 11 million copies. Popular tracks included “Girl You Know It’s True,” “Blame It On The Rain” and “Babe Don’t Forget My Number.”

The album won a Grammy for best new artist in 1990.

The Milli Vanilli dream soon went south when it emerged that Pilatus and Morvan didn’t actually sing the songs on the album, and the real singers were, in fact, Davis and others, who were credited as backing singers. The ensuing scandal led to Milli Vanilli having to return the Grammy.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The lip-syncing fiasco initially got big when Beth McCarthy-Miller, then an executive with MTV, said the duo’s English language skills, when they came in for their first interview with the channel, created serious doubts among those present as to whether they had sung on their records.

Because of growing public questions as to who sang in the group, as well as Morvan and Pilatus’ demand to Farian that they be allowed to sing on the next album, on 14 November 1990, Farian announced that he had fired them and confessed they did not sing on the records. Confronted by Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Philips, Pilatus confirmed the deception. “It’s True: Milli Vanilli Didn’t Sing” read the newspaper’s headline.
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To restore their careers, the two sang with their real voices in an album created in 1997; the 1998 Milli Vanilli comeback album Back and In Attack. Some of the original studio singers even backed the duo in their attempt to recover some of their fame that had been lost so quickly. However, Rob Pilatus encountered a number of personal problems during the album’s production. He turned to drugs and crime, committing a series of assaults and robberies, and was sentenced to three months in jail and six months in a drug rehabilitation facility in California. Farian bailed Pilatus out of jail. On the eve of the new album’s promotional tour on April 2, 1998, Pilatus was found dead of a suspected alcohol and prescription drug overdose in a hotel room in Frankfurt, Germany.

Davis, however, continued with his musical career after the scandal, this time as a lead performer.

He sang with stars such as Luther Vandross and

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