Boney M and Milli Vanilli founder Frank Farian dies, aged 82

23 January 2024, 14:20

Milli Vanilli – the official documentary trailer

By Mayer Nissim

Frank Farian was the mastermind, producer and secret singer of some of disco's biggest hits.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Musician, songwriter and producer Frank Farian has died at the age of 82.

While his name and face were unknown to many, Farian was the mastermind behind both Boney M and Milli Vanilli, as well as Latin pop trio No Mercy.

Farian died in Miami, Florida, his agency confirmed to The Guardian. He had previously undergone heart surgery in 2022, and was said to be in declining health despite its initial success.

Born Franz Reuther in Kirn, Germany in 1941, Frank had several hits national hits under the name Frankie Farian, and in 1976 he released the single 'Baby Do You Wanna Bump' and album Take The Heat Off Me under the name Boney M.

For the project he recruited singers Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett, dancer Maizie Williams and – controversially – "frontman" Bobby Farrell, a dancer who mimed to Farian's vocals in concert and on TV.

Frank Farian in 1994
Frank Farian in 1994. Picture: Getty Images

They scored a series of massive hits including 'Daddy Cool', 'Rivers of Babylon' 'Rasputin' and 'Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord'.

He later founded Milli Vanilli, a duo consisting of dancers Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus who again would mime to vocals that weren't theirs, this time being by John Davis, Brad Howell and Charles Shaw.

Milli Vanilli's Girl You Know It's True album went six-times Platinum in the US with sales of six million copies and Diamond in Canada with sales a further million.

Boney M in 1984
Boney M in 1984. Picture: Getty Images

However, the group were dropped by their label, the album deleted and Grammy Award revoked when it emerged that neither Morvan nor Pilatus sang on the record.

After Milli Vanilli, Farian developed other grups including La Bouche and Le Click. The Daddy Cool stage musical that opened in the West End in 2006 featured songs from across the Farian back catalogue.

Farian married and split from Chinya Onyewenjo, and had three daughters and one son.

Last Played Songs