Producer and songwriter Frank Farian, the creator of Milli Vanilli and Boney M, has passed away aged 82.
Frank Farian, producer, songwriter, and impresario who founded the bands Boney M, No Mercy, and Milli Vanilli, has passed away, initially reported to BBC News by his family on social media. No cause of death was given, but Farian had received a heart valve transplant in 2022. He died peacefully at his Miami home at age 82.
Born in West Germany, Farian was a driving force of early Eurodisco, selling an estimated 800 million records. He rose to prominence in the ‘70s with disco-pop group Boney M, for which he operated behind the scenes on co-writing, promoting, and singing lead vocals on many of their tracks. The band’s biggest hit, “Daddy Cool,” was initially recorded by Farian in a deeper voice than that he usually used to sing, and later given to the band’s Black singer, Bobby Farrell, to perform (and lip-sync) live.
Though he produced albums for artists like Meat Loaf and Stevie Wonder, his penchant in his own bands for having performers lip-sync on stage to songs recorded by session musicians led to infamy. In 1989, Milli Vanilli was exposed during a live performance due to a malfunctioning tape, leading to the duo being stripped of its Best New Artist title at the Grammy Awards.
“Our producer tricked us,” said Milli Vanilli’s Fabrice Morvan, speaking of Farian. “We signed contracts as singers but were never allowed to contribute. It was a nightmare. We were living a lie.”
Despite controversies, Farian continued to write and produce successful hits like La Bouche’s “Be My Lover,” as well as working with artists like Terence Trent D’Arby, Le Click, Eruption, and Precious Wilson.
“Our work was truly blessed and so enjoyed by people around the world who had the privilege to hear it down the years,” said original Boney M member Liz Mitchell. “We shared and united under a star which rose above and beyond what we ever dared to expect. I say well done to the work that we did. Rest in peace, Frank.”
In 2022, Farian announced he had undergone a successful heart surgery in which a pig heart valve was inserted. He credited this surgery with saving his life.