John Davis, one of the singers who contributed the real vocals to the fake hit-making duo Milli Vanilli, has died at the age of 66.
Davis’ daughter Jasmin confirmed her father’s death in a May 24th Facebook post, adding that he died from complications related to Covid-19, Variety reports. “He made a lot of people happy with his laughter and smile, his happy spirit, love and especially through his music,” she wrote. “He gave so much to the world! Please give him the last round of applause. We will miss him dearly.”
Milli Vanilli — the French/German duo of models/”singers” Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, along with producer Frank Farian — exploded onto the U.S. music scene in the late Eighties, first hitting Number Two with their debut single “Girl You Know It’s True” in 1988 and following that with three straigt Number One singles (“Baby Don’t Forget My Number,” “Blame It on the Rain” and “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”).
The duo’s U.S. debut album Girl You Know It’s True was released in 1989; that same year, questions about Milli Vanilli’s authenticity first arose when they were infamously caught lip-syncing during an MTV performance in July 1989. Despite growing doubts over the duo, Milli Vanilli still won Best New Artist at the 32nd Grammy Awards in February 1990.
However, just eight months later, that Grammy was revoked — the only time in the awards’ history that a Grammy win was taken away from an artist — after Farian announced that neither Morvan and Pilatus sang on any of their hits. The true singers, it was later revealed, were Brad Howell, Charles Shaw and Davis, a studio singer who previously released the electro album Destination Earth in 1984.
Following the scandal, Farian repackaged the songs that were planned for Milli Vanilli’s second album The Moment of Truth and released them under the moniker the Real Milli Vanilli, with Davis and Howell now in the forefront. The Moment of Truth — the Real Milli Vanilli’s only album — was never released in America.
Despite the infamous end to Milli Vanilli’s chart reign, Morvan and Davis remained on good terms, with the singer and the non-singer occasionally performing together, including on a German television show in 2015:
Morvan tweeted following news of Davis’ death, “R.I.P brother @johndavisrmv Can’t believe it, thanks for all the love you’ve spread through out the years, from the edge of the stage. You and I had a great run, it was fun to celebrate life with the help of music. Peace one love. Your voice will live on. Play it loud everybody.”