John Davis, Actual Singer On Milli Vanilli Records, Dead At 66

John Davis, Actual Singer On Milli Vanilli Records, Dead At 66

Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, the two models presented to the public as Milli Vanilli in the late ’80s, didn’t sing on their own records. But one of the people who did sing on those enormously successful tracks was John Davis, a South Carolina native who’d been living in German for years. Davis had served in the Army in the mid-’70s, and he’d remained in Germany after his discharge, taking part in the German music scene. Earlier this week, as TMZ reports, Davis died of COVID-19. Davis’ daughter Jasmin revealed his death in a Facebook post. Davis was 66.

The saga of Milli Vanilli almost instantly became show-business legend in 1989, German producer and songwriter Frank Farian, seizing on the expanding popularity of rap and dance music, put together a record called “Girl, You Know It’s True,” a cover of a track from a Baltimore group called Numarx. Farian recorded the single with session musicians like John Davis. When the song became a European hit, Farian recruited a pair of models, Pilatus and Morvan, to become the faces of Milli Vanilli, never admitting that they hadn’t done the singing.

Milli Vanilli became phenomenally successful for a short period. The duo topped charts around the world, with two of their singles hitting #1 in the US. Their 1989 album Girl You Know It’s True went sextuple platinum, and they won the Best New Artist Grammy. Pilatus and Morvan toured as Milli Vanilli, lip-syncing the records that they hadn’t sung in the studio. But thanks in part to a malfunctioning backing-tape machine, Farian eventually had to admit that the duo hadn’t sung on their record. The public backlash was massive, and the group’s Grammy was revoked.

Farian tried to repackage Davis and fellow session singer Brad Howell as the Real Milli Vanilli. At the time, Davis told The Washington Post, “They had the faces, we had the voices. If they don’t have the Grammy, I don’t want it, either. Besides, we’re going to get it next year anyway.” They didn’t get it. In 2015, Davis and surviving Milli Vanilli lip-syncer Fab Morvan performed together under the name Face Meets Voice.

Below, check out a couple of those Milli Vanilli videos and a Face Meets Voice performance on German TV.

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