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Boney M creator Frank Farian dies aged 82

Creator of pop group Boney M Frank Farian has died aged 82.

The German music producer, who is credited with much of the band’s songwriting including the hit songs Daddy Cool and Rasputin, died “peacefully” in his apartment in Miami on Tuesday, his family announced.

Farian went on to have success with R&B group Milli Vanilli, who released Girl You Know It’s True and Girl I’m Gonna Miss You, and American pop band No Mercy, who had success with Where Do You Go, When I Die and Please Don’t Go.

A statement to the PA news agency through German marketing agency Allendorf Media also said that Farian “is considered the most internationally successful producer from Germany” and had more than 800 million records sold worldwide.

Boney M was the brainchild of Farian, who put the band together in 1975 with four singers – Marcia Barrett, Maizie Williams, Liz Mitchell and Bobby Farrell.

Liz Mitchell interview
Boney M singer Liz Mitchell (Howard Bowden/PA)

Mitchell, originally from Jamaica and now living in Oxfordshire, said in a statement: “Our work was truly blessed and so enjoyed by people around the world who had the privilege to hear it down the years.

“The testimonies come from the hearts of those who heard it and I am so grateful to the god of music that allowed our coming together, to create and present to the world the music of Boney M.

“We shared and united under a star which rose above and beyond what we ever dared to expect. I say well done to the work that we did. Rest in peace, Frank.”

The band’s first hit single was Daddy Cool in 1976, which peaked at number six, and they went on to have 10 UK top 10 hits until their break-up.

They are believed to be the first international group to perform in the communist Soviet Union.

Boney M also released a re-recording of chart-topper Rivers Of Babylon and the singles Ma Baker and number one hit Mary’s Boy Child.

Farrell died aged 61 while on tour in Russia in 2010.

Farian was born Franz Reuther in the town of Kirn, in south-west Germany between Trier and Frankfurt, on July 18, 1941.

He began working as a chef before founding the rock ‘n’ roll band Frankie And The Shadows in 1961 and released solo song Rocky in 1976.

Farian also worked with US musician Stevie Wonder, American singer and actor Meat Loaf real name Michael Lee Aday, and Eurodance duo La Bouche.

In a 2023 biopic about Milli Vanilli, called Girl You Know It’s True, Farian was played by Valkyrie actor Matthias Schweighofer.

The film also explored Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus not being the actual singers of the group and the subsequent backlash.

Morvan and Pilatus were stripped of their 1989 Best New Artist Grammy Award and the band disbanded, reforming as Rob and Fab in 1991, but achieving little commercial success.

Pilatus died aged 33 in 1998 in a German hotel room after a drug overdose.

Boney M – Heathrow Airport – London
Pop group Boney M, (L-R) Liz Mitchell, Mazie Williams, Bobby Farrell and Marcia Barrett (PA)

John Davis, one of the real singers behind the lip-synching pop group, later found out that his voice was being attributed to Morvan.

Before his death aged 66 in 2021, he told The Hustle podcast that Farian made him come to the studio late at night to record away from the other artists.

He was not unhappy with the situation as he said he “made a lot of money” from the recordings.

A second Milli Vanilli album was repackaged by Farian, but with Davis and another of the actual singers listed as lead vocals.

A statement also said: “Most recently he was working on new music for No Mercy and Milli Vanilli and was planning to produce a new major musical.

“At the same time, he worked on a six-part TV streaming series about his musical work. These projects are now being completed in his spirit by the Frank Farian Foundation.

“The foundation is committed to preserving Frank Farian’s extensive life’s work and promoting new talent, just as the passionate music lover wanted it.”