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John Davis, Real Milli Vanilli Singer, Dies of COVID-19 at 66

Variety logo Variety 5/27/2021 Naman Ramachandran
Rob Pilatus wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone © AP

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John Davis, one of the real voices behind infamous music group Milli Vanilli, has died of coronavirus. He was 66.

“My dad passed away this evening through the coronavirus,” Davis’ daughter Jasmin posted to Facebook on May 24. “He made a lot of people happy with his laughter and smile, his happy spirit, love and especially through his music. He gave so much to the world! Please give him the last round of applause. We will miss him dearly.”

German-French duo Milli Vanilli, with Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, was created by music producer Frank Farian. Their debut album, titled “All Or Nothing” released in Europe in 1988 and was repackaged as “Girl You Know It’s True” in 1989 in the U.S. The dance pop synth album was a smash hit, selling 11 million copies. Popular tracks included “Girl You Know It’s True,” “Blame It On The Rain” and “Babe Don’t Forget My Number.”

The album won a Grammy for best new artist in 1990.

The Milli Vanilli dream soon soured when it emerged that Pilatus and Morvan didn’t actually sing the songs on the album, and the real singers were, in fact, Davis and others, who were credited as backing singers. The ensuing scandal led to Milli Vanilli having to return the Grammy.

“The Moment of Truth” was meant to be the second Milli Vanilli album, but the scandal led Farian to repackage the group as The Real Milli Vanilli, with Davis, fellow original Milli Vanilli singer Brad Howell and band members on the cover. The album released in Brazil, Europe, Asia and New Zealand and reached the top 20 in Germany in 1991. One of the singles from the album, “Keep on Running,” climbed to 4th position in the German charts.

“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,” tweeted Morvan.

“It’s a sad day….. RIP John. We wouldn’t be who we are without you,” tweeted the Milli Vanilli Twitter handle.

Davis, originally from South Carolina, moved to Germany. He remained in Germany after the scandal and in later years performed with Morvan as Face Meets Voice.

Pilatus died in 1998, aged 33.

Pictured Fabrice Morvan (L) and John Davis (R).

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