One half of the 80s sensation Milli Vanilli — and its only surviving member — is finally speaking out about the lip-syncing scandal that ended it all. Fabrice ‘Fab’ Morvan, now 57, opened up in an interview with PEOPLE published on October 25. “People always thought they knew the story,” he told the magazine of the German R&B duo’s scandal. “But my story has never been told.”
Milli Vanilla enjoyed a rapid rise to success in the late 1980s with hits including the ubiquitous “Girl You Know It’s True” and even nabbed a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1990. But when it became common knowledge that neither Fabrice nor his singing partner, Rob Pilatus, had actually performed any of the hits on their highly popular album, the Grammy was revoked, and their glory days were shrouded in shame and scandal. In short, they were cancelled. Rob tragically passed away in 1998 at the age of 32, with drugs and alcohol the suspected cause.
Fabrice’s interview with PEOPLE comes on the day Paramount+’s new documentary Milli Vanilli drops on the network, and in his interview, he goes into detail on how the duo and other producers pulled off the ruse. Fascinatingly, he shared that they were kept entirely separate from the stateside singers who actually did perform the music — Charles Shaw, Brad Howell, and John Davis.
He also claims that he didn’t realize until after signing the record deal that producers had no intention of having them perform vocals. They attempted to find out who was actually singing, but it was impossible. “Every time we came to the studio we tried to look for people,” Fabrice told the outlet. “There was nobody there. They made sure that we never came in contact.”
He also divulged that the entire ruse made him nervous — the German singers’ real voices and accents simply didn’t match up to the American performers. “It was always just like this weight,” he explained. “That was nerve-wracking.”
Fabrice claims he and Rob wanted to sing on the duo’s second album, even threatening to expose the ruse if record exec Frank Farian refused (the outlet reports Frank hasn’t commented on the matter or the documentary.) But Fabrice claims Frank called their bluff and exposed the scandal himself, ending an entertainment fantasy for legions of fans. Fabrice says they lashed out ferociously once the scandal broke.
“We went from being these loved characters to being laughed at and ridiculed,” Fabrice recalled. “We were the butt of all the jokes and easy targets.” Even worse, they were targeted with racism. “It was ugly,” he said. “Rob took it really personally.”
Following Rob’s tragic death, Fabrice has pieced his life together, living in Amsterdam with longtime partner Tessa van der Steen and their four children — a life he says has “healed” him. And to this day, he makes music. “I said to myself, ‘Hey, let’s go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose,’” he told the magazine. “I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.”