Milli Vanilli producer and pop singer Frank Farian has died

His songs are pop classics and the soundtrack of a generation. “Daddy Cool” or “Rasputin”: Music producer Frank Farian created danceable world hits on an assembly line. This success took him by surprise. “The win was a big surprise. I always thought I wouldn't win. It wasn't like that at the beginning,” he once told a German press agency.

Now Farian has died at age 82 — at his adopted home in Miami, his family announced Tuesday through an agency. “Looking at the sun from the studio: that's what I've always wanted,” he once said of a trip to America.

Roth: “A unique sense of the spirit of the age”

“Farian was one of the first to prove that pop music from Germany can also be successful internationally,” explained state culture minister Claudia Roth (Greens). He had a unique sense of the zeitgeist. “From soul, disco and pop, he created a new sound that was danced around the world.”

Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD) said: “Germany is losing a musical jumper with proud roots in Saarland.” People will remember Farian and keep his music in their ears. Former Milli Vanilli star Fabrice Morvan also offered her condolences to the family of music producer Frank Farian. “His music will live on forever.”

He was born Franz Reiter on July 18, 1941 in Kirn an der Nahe, his name Frank Farian became synonymous with international success in the music business. Since he made teenagers cry in the mid-1970s with his somber hit “Rocky”, he never performed – it was “over at some point”. His mega success started as a producer in the background. For example, with the Bonnie M group.

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Milli Vanilli: From Great Success to Scandal

Farian sang the first song, “Baby Do You Wanna Pump” (1975). As he could not perform the polyphonic song solo on stage, he sought out an orchestra to perform the song. Two members sang live, and two moved their lips. With success: hits like “Rivers of Babylon” or “Ma Baker” are pop history.

A similar plan was followed with Milli Vanilli – but it went wrong. It became a scandal in the music business. Childhood friends Robert “Rob” Pilates and Fabrice “Fab” Morven's disco-pop hit “Girl You Know It's True” sold more than 30 million copies worldwide in the late 1980s. The debut Milli Vanilli album was certified six times platinum in the US in 1989, and the Munich duo won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. It was later revealed that the two did not actually sing, but moved their lips to the voices of professional singers. The music world was rocked.

Farian Milli Vanilli criticized the film – but praised Schweifer

The case is still considered one of the biggest fraud scandals in music history. A film from director Simon Verhoeven tells the story in theaters now. Farian worked as an associate producer, but said he had no direct influence and trusted the film company. However, in his own words, he saw that the story was not portrayed correctly – the picture was “less than 80 percent” true.

“This is not my empirical reality. That's why I'm a bit distant from it,” he told the “Saarbrücker Zeitung” before the publication in December. Singer Robert “Rob” Pilates, for example, died differently than in the film. However, Farian was impressed with the performance of Matthias Schweffer, the actor who portrays Farian in the film: “No one can be like Frank Farian! But he embodies me perfectly,” he said. In the interview, Farian also announced that a new Milli Vanilli album with previously unreleased songs will be released soon; A video for the second single has already been shot.

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“Frank supported our film even though my script was very critical of it – and for that I will always be grateful,” said director and screenwriter Simon Verhoeven, according to the statement. Verhoeven called Farian “the talent of the century”. He was “a musical fanatic” who “went from a poor background in the German provinces to the pinnacle of international pop music with boundless ambition.”

Trained to be a chef “because I was always hungry”.

Farian wasn't born with success, with bands like Eruption and No Mercy. “I never met my father; he died in the war before I was born. My mother was my personal wreck. She did everything for me even though we had no money.” At 14, young Franz went to live with relatives in Saarland and learned to be a cook – “because I was always hungry and always wanted something to eat.”

Music had humble beginnings. At one family evening, the priest gave him a penny because he sang “The Moon Has Risen” – “My First Fare.” Farian recorded their first record with his band Ty Shotton in 1963 at a former stable. “In the middle was a microphone and a tape recorder.”

Chart hits and gold records

From Charland we went to a recording studio in Hesse, Rosebach near Frankfurt, then to Miami – and, for example, Bonnie M. in Moscow. We went to concerts together. When Farian talked about it, his voice sounded serious. “I often think about how we danced in Red Square,” he said. “My father died in Russia, and I am a famous star there, and you cannot dream of it.”

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He's racked up gold records and celebrated chart successes — but Farian once insisted he couldn't fathom the secret to his massive success. As he mixes a song, he thinks back to his time as a chef. “It's always about the stuff. You can become a musician, but it's a lot of luck. You can't plan success.”

The joys of life and work are important to him. He said on his 80th birthday that he had no other choice. “I've succeeded in almost everything. I'm living the American dream in German.”

With information from dpa

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