SmartLess - Listen Now: Blame it on the Fame: Milli Vanilli

Episode Date: May 14, 2024

When Frank Farian first laid eyes on Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, he saw everything he wasn’t. They were handsome, young, and Black. But Frank had something they didn’t. He had power.So, F...rank offered them a devil’s bargain. Almost overnight, Milli Vanilli’s debut album went five times platinum and scored a Grammy nomination. But when the lie at the center of their success started to unravel, Rob and Fab would discover the hard way the difference between star power and real power.From Wondery, Blame It on the Fame is a story about the lie that shot to #1 and what it cost to tell the truth. Hosted by Amanda Seales.Listen early and ad-free exclusively on Wondery+: Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

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Starting point is 00:00:00 In the 1980s, Frank Farian was riding high as a successful German music producer, but he was bored. German pop was formulaic, dull, and oh-so-white. Frank had bigger dreams, American dreams. He wanted to create the kind of music that would rival larger-than-life artists like Michael Jackson or Run DMC. So he assembled a hip-hop duo, two once-in-a-lifetime talents who were charismatic, full of sex appeal, and phenomenal dancers. The only problem? One very important element was missing, but of sex appeal, and phenomenal dancers. The only problem? One very important element was missing, but Frank knew just how to fix that. Wondry's new podcast, Blame It on the Fame, dives into one of pop music's greatest controversies.
Starting point is 00:00:34 Milli Vanilli set the world on fire, but when their adoring fans learned about the infamous lip syncing, their downfall was swift and brutal. But that isn't the whole story. With exclusive interviews from frontman Fab Morvan and his producers, Frank Farian and Ingrid Seegeth, this podcast takes a fresh look at the exploitation of two young black artists. While many see this as a story of a scam gone wrong,
Starting point is 00:00:56 Blame It on the Fame tells the never before heard story of the man pulling the strings and the trail of destruction he left in his wake. I'm about to play a clip from Blame It On The Fame, Millie Vanilli. Follow Blame It On The Fame on the Wondery app or wherever you get your podcasts. ["Wonder Woman"]
Starting point is 00:01:18 Guys, look this way. Look. Nice! Two young men with silk scarves tied over their long black braids sat behind a long table. They leaned into the microphones in front of them and introduced themselves as... My name is Fabrice Marlin. My name is Robert DeLayton.
Starting point is 00:01:39 In front of them was a room full of reporters. But Rob looked cocky, like a debate club student who's never lost a tournament. And Fab, child Fab looked like he was about to shit his pants. Why did you keep on doing it for so long? What was going through your mind? Exclusive. For almost two years, Rob and Fab had been two
Starting point is 00:02:00 of the biggest pop stars on the whole planet. But just a few days ago, the entire world learned that they didn't sing a note on their own album. The album that won them Best New Artist at the Grammys and went six times platinum. You won't have your favorite singers and help them critically. You can now be seen as not even your favorite singer. How could you expect anyone, your fans, the media, anybody, to pay the serious amount? How much money were you paid and told you you were not single?
Starting point is 00:02:29 Well, what kind of nuts does that tell your fans? What? I would describe it like this. You get something, but for that you make a pact with the devil. No one wanted to hear about a pact with the devil. Not if the pattern would be very upset by the fact that the only way you can explain the charade, the past, the bakery of the last mere two years,
Starting point is 00:02:50 is money. Do you live in a project? Did you live in a project? If we wouldn't have accepted that at the start, we knew we would still be in Munich, I would still work at the McDonald's. A guy from the back shouted, your talent would get you out.
Starting point is 00:03:05 Rob and Fab's manager needed to shut this down. Like now. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Gentlemen, can we close you up to comfort? Thank you. The reporters started moving toward the exit. They were in a good mood.
Starting point is 00:03:20 They had all just been handed bylines for front page stories. These two, Rob and Fab, had tried to get something for nothing. Tried to fake their way to fame and fortune. And they'd been caught in a lie. An outrageous lie. It was a good story. But one black reporter in glasses didn't head toward the exit. He headed toward the reporter who'd yelled, Your talent would get you out.
Starting point is 00:03:46 He looked like a true white boy. His talent would get you out. Now it's hard to hear him over the crowd, but he's saying spoken like a true white boy. Talent, right. You can hear the next bit a little more clearly. You knew that shit wasn't true when you said it. You knew that shit wasn't true when you said it. You knew that shit wasn't true when you said it.
Starting point is 00:04:07 You can binge all episodes of Blame It on the Fame, Milli Vanilli, early and ad free right now by joining Wondery Plus in the Wondery app or on Apple podcasts.

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