Song: “Baby Don’t Forget My Number” by “Milli Vanilli”
Reached #1: July 1, 1989 (“their” first, 1 week)
Ironically, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus would probably be YouTube stars today, now that “lip dub” (lip-sync) videos are a big thing on the user-provided video service.
However, they would have had to admit that they were lip-synching to someone else’s music, which it seems they weren’t quite willing to do.
Neither Morvan nor Pilatus were native English speakers – but they looked like pop stars. The real singers, 5 performers you never heard of, sounded great. Producer Frank Farian decided – for reasons nobody has discovered – that the listening public didn’t care who showed up on stage as long as the music was good… and as long as he never actually mentioned who was singing.
Those who remember how Ashlee Simpson was caught lip-synching her own “live” music will appreciate how Milli Vanilli were first caught out. At a theme park in Connecticut, their “live” performance of “Girl You Know It’s True” started skip…skip…skip…skip… *thud* skipping. They tried to play it off, but wound up cancelling the rest of the show.
By the end of 1989, Milli Vanilli had two problems – the real singers wanted credit, and the fake singers wanted to sing. One of the real singers broke their silence with New York’s Newsday – then “recanted” (after a nice payout from Farian). Morvan and Pilatus accepted Grammys in February 1990 as Best New Artist – and had them taken back in November 1990 after Farian confessed everything under mounting media pressure.
Of course, this didn’t end well for anyone. The real singers released an album as “The Real Milli Vanilli”. It tanked. Morvan and Pilatus released an album as “Rob & Fab”. By all accounts, it was terrible, and it tanked.
A 1997-98 comeback ended in a Frankfurt hotel room, where Pilatus fatally mixed booze and drugs. He’d turned to drugs after the scandal, and never was able to get clean.
Morvan is still recording, with new material out as recently as 2011, but is more of a novelty act than a real singer at this point.
You have to wonder if enough time has passed… will someone dare try this again? Maybe they already have…
Tomorrow, the Chairman hits #1 on a music chart he had no interest in…
Other songs that hit #1 on July 1:
1967 – “Windy” by the Association (their second, 4 weeks)
1972 – “Song Sung Blue” by Neil Diamond (their second, 1 week)
2006 – “Do I Make You Proud” by Taylor Hicks (his first, 1 week)