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Pop Duo’s Grammy Award Revoked

November 20, 1990

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The band Milli Vanilli was stripped of its Grammy Award on Monday because other singers substituted for the pop duo on the best-selling ″Girl, You Know It’s True″ album.

It’s the first time in the 34-year history of Grammys that an award had been taken away.

Trustees of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences voted overwhelmingly to rescind the award given to Milli Vanilli members Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, said academy President Michael Greene.

″The academy hopes its action sends a clear signal to producers, music packagers and record companies that they need to take very seriously their task of giving us and the public credible information on that packaging,″ he said.

″I do think it’s an isolated incident. We are as upset about it as the public has the right to be.″

The attorney representing Pilatus and Morvan said the pair already had planned to surrender the Grammy.

″My guess is when the academy read that, they decided to beat us to the game,″ attorney Alan Mintz said.

″Needless to say, this is an emotionally trying time. But (Pilatus and Morvan) are determined to prove to the world that they will come back strongly and demonstrate that they are indeed artists.″

In a related development, an Oakland woman who bought her son a Milli Vanilli tape filed a class action lawsuit Monday seeking a refund in light of the revelation that the duo didn’t sing a note on the recording.

″I want everyone to be able to get money back. I don’t want the producer in Germany to profit from what he did to these kids,″ Sheila Stalder said at a news conference in her lawyer’s San Francisco office.

If the lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court is won, anyone in California who bought Milli Vanilli recordings or attended the pop duo’s concerts would be entitled to a refund, said lawyer Alan Caplan.

The lawsuit also seeks to recover profits and place them in a trust benefiting consumer groups as outlined in the state’s consumer protection statute, Caplan said.

Pilatus, 25, from Germany, and Morvan, also 25 and a native of the Caribbean island of Guadaloupe, scheduled a Tuesday news conference in Los Angeles to discuss the scandal. They were unavailable for comment on Monday.

A decision on the disposition of the 1989 new artist award will be made by an academy subcommittee Dec. 5 in New York.

Pilatus and Morvan, the dancing, dreadlocked frontmen for the group, suggested the award go to the three singers who actually performed the vocals for Milli Vanilli. Greene said that was ″not a possibility.″

In announcing its unprecedented move, the academy said it recognizes that ″packaging″ groups is part of the music industry, especially in the kind of ″Euro-dance″ music performed by Milli Vanilli.

But misleading record labels are unacceptable, Greene said.

″The integrity of that album label copy obviously was flawed. It said ‘Vocals: Rob and Fab.’ That was just absolutely false,″ he said.

Shortly before the academy announced its decision, Milli Vanilli’s producer, Frank Farian, and record company, Arista Records, called on the duo to surrender the Grammy.

″Initially, I felt that this honor gave recognition to the entire Milli Vanilli team. This has not, however, been the case,″ Farian said in a statement from Frankfurt.

He said that by returning the Grammy, ″Rob and Fab can put this episode behind them and mark the beginning of a new career for themselves.″

The lip-sync controversy erupted last week when Farian disclosed to The Associated Press that others actually sang on the record credited to Pilatus and Morvan. The photogenic pair also lip-synced their way through live performances, including one at the Grammy Awards show, Farian said.

The album was distributed by Arista Records. After Farian confirmed the rumors, Arista’s executive vice president, Roy Lott, said: ″Seven million albums? Embarrassing, I don’t mean the end justifies the means, but we sold 7 million albums.″

On Monday, Lott said Arista no knowledge of the deception when it released the album.

Pilatus and Morvan have alleged that Arista knew they weren’t really the singers. Vocalists Johnny Davis, Charles Shaw and Brad Howell reportedly sang on the Milli Vanilli record.

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