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Milli Vanilli: Thick Foreign Accents Raised Suspicions

November 21, 1990

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Exposed as lip-syncing frauds, the Milli Vanilli duo say that rather than come clean about the sham, they once took a dialect coach on tour with them to help them shed their foreign accents.

″Every time we gave an interview, the reporters would hear my French accent or Rob’s German accent and they’d say, ’No way. How could these guys have sung the songs?‴ Fabrice Morvan said in today’s Los Angeles Times.

″We didn’t want to do any more interviews,″ said his partner, Rob Pilatus. ″The more we talked, the worse things got.″

Dialect Accent Specialists in Los Angeles was hired in August 1989 and paid by Arista Records to accompany Pilatus and Morvan and help them sound more like the singing voices they mouthed on their hot-selling album, they told the Times.

On Monday, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences stripped Milli Vanilli of its Grammy after its producer confirmed rumors that Pilatus and Morvan were just front men on the album that won them best new artist honors in February.

The pair met reporters Tuesday and heaped blame on their German producer, Frank Farian. They claimed he took advantage of them when they were down and out in Munich.

″We were seduced, we were abused and we felt very guilty,″ Pilatus said.

The deception began to unravel at a 1989 concert when their audio system playing the album ″Girl You Know It’s True″ started to skip like a broken record, the Times reported today. The recording at the Bristol, Conn., show kept rerunning the lyrics: ″Girl you know it’s, Girl you know it’s ...″

″I knew right then and there it was the beginning of the end for Milli Vanilli,″ Pilatus told the newspaper. ″When my voice got stuck in the computer and it just kept repeating and repeating, I panicked. I just ran off the stage.″

Pilatus and Morvan, both 25, said at Tuesday’s news conference that they had been pressing Farian to let them sing on the next album.

″We said to Frank Farian, ’You don’t let us sing on the album. Don’t do this anymore,″ Pilatus said. ″We don’t want to live like this.

″We don’t want to be embarrassed every night by Arsenio Hall. We didn’t want to go to clubs and (have) every girl say, ‘Hey, you don’t sing on the records.’ We wanted to stop.″

Their album sold 7 million copies and made the two unknowns international stars. Pilatus said it actually featured vocalists Johnny Davis, Brad Howell and Charles Shaw.

Pilatus said he and Morvan were offered $4,000 each to become Milli Vanilli when they were living in a Munich housing project and were so poor they had to steal food.

″You get something, but for that you make a pact with the devil,″ Pilatus said.

″We really love our fans. ... We just hope that they understand that we were young, that we just wanted to live the life the American way.″

Clive Davis, president of Arista Records, knew they were faking, the pair and manager Carsten Heyn claimed, despite repeated Arista denials.

Pilatus, born in New York and raised in Germany, and Morvan, a native of Guadaloupe in the French West Indies, intend continue to their musical career - minus the Milli Vanilli name.

The new monicker?

″Rob and Fab, the German and the French,″ Pilatus said.

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