Milli Vanilli

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

What was the Accusation?

On November 20, 1990, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences revoked Milli Vanilli’s 1989 Grammy Award for best new artist, after the duo and their German producer, Frank Farian, admitted that the dreadlocked performers (aka Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan) did not sing a word on their hit debut album, “Girl You Know It’s True.”  After returning their Grammy to the academy, the duo defended themselves by saying they were “poor and hungry” and manipulated by their exploitative producer. The record company that released the album, Arista Records, denied any knowledge that the voices on the album weren’t those of the Pilatus and Morvan).  The duo also tried to repair damage to their image by suggesting that they do have singing abilities of their own.  At a press conference with more than 200 reporters, they broke into a few a cappella bars of the title song that won the Grammy.  Those who heard it would have to judge for themselves if the performance constituted proof of real talent.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Shifting Blame, Good Intentions



“It was an opportunity for us.”

“We were young, naive and we believed him,”

“We’re happy that it’s over. But we don’t understand that it’s us, the two little guys from Germany, the victims, who have to play suddenly the role of the crooks.”

“We have strongly expressed to Frank Farian and to our record labels, Arista Records and BMG Records, our reluctance to participate in any kind of misrepresentation. Through a variety of coercive maneuvers, our wishes to creatively participate in our recordings have been denied.”

“We lived in the (housing) projects. We had no money. We wanted to be stars, that was our main reasons.”

“We’re very sorry to have made them unhappy. We ourselves have not been happy that we were not allowed to sing on our albums. We’re relieved that the truth has now been made public.”

“We were seduced, abused and we felt very guilty but we are here because we stopped it. We said to Frank ‘We don’t want to do this anymore and if you don’t let us sing we won’t do it anymore.”

“We were told it would be the worst thing in life if we told the secret. I have upset powerful people, greedy people, people who didn’t care about Rob or Fab. I’m scared now but we’re finally happy it’s over.”


Kornhaber, S. (2015, November 27). Milli Vanilli, pop music’s original fakes. The Atlantic. Retrieved from:

Milli Vanilli explains its lip-synching (1990, November 21). New York Times. Retrieved from:

Phillips, C. (1990, November 17).  Milli ‘singer’ says Arista knew about album hoax : Pop music: Milli Vanilli performer and former manager claim the record company was aware before the Grammys that duo didn’t sing on record. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from:

Ryan, D. F. (1990, November 21). Milli Vanilli members say they were ‘seduced’ by fame. UPI. Retrieved from: