After a quick rise to international success, he found an even more quick decline that contributed to his untimely death at age 32
The Milli Vanilli’s Rob Pilatus was born 55 years ago today
Rob Pilatus was born on June 8, 1965, in New York City, USA, the son of an American soldier and a German mother. As a baby, he was adopted by a German family. During the early to mid-1980’s worked as a model and break dancer, and also appeared as a backing singer with the group Wind at the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest in Brussels. He joined Fab Morvan in 1988 to form the pop group Milli Vanilli and soon caught the eye of German music producer Frank Farian (Boney M.) who signed them to be part of a musical act. The duo agreed to serve as the public faces for singers Charles Shaw and Brad Howell, who Farian thought were vocally talented but lacked a marketable image. The first Milli Vanilli platinum album was “Girl You Know It’s True”, which became a worldwide hit. The album produced five hit singles including three number 1 hits, “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”, “Baby Don’t Forget My Number” and “Blame It On The Rain”. They also won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1990 for “Girl You Know It’s True” Despite the enormous success, the duo were a frequent target of rumors and allegations of onstage lip-synching and not having sung on the album. When Pilatus and Morvan pressured Farian to let them sing on the next album, Farian admitted to reporters on 15 November 1990 that they had not performed on the recordings. Milli Vanilli’s Grammy Award was withdrawn four days later. In the years following the collapse of Milli Vanilli, Pilatus struggled with substance abuse and even suicide attempts. After their unsuccessful comeback, Morvan and Pilatus stopped speaking to each other. In 1996, Pilatus served three months in prison for assault, vandalism, and attempted robbery. Farian paid for Pilatus to spend six months in drug rehabilitation, before returning to Germany from the United States. On 2 April 1998, on the eve of a promotional tour for a new completed Milli Vanilli album Back and in Attack featuring Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan on lead vocals, Rob Pilatus was found dead at the age of 32 from a suspected alcohol and prescription pill overdose in “Kent’s Cube” in Frankfurt. His death was ruled accidental. Pilatus is survived by his son and his sister. He is buried in the Waldfriedhof in Munich, Germany.
Look back at the 1989 music video for “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli featuring Rob Pilatus
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