Rob Pilatus

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Rob Pilatus
Milli Vanilli 1990.jpg
Pilatus, right
Background information
Birth name Robert Pilatus
Born Munich, Germany
Died 2 April 1998(1998-04-02) (age 32)[1]
Friedrichsdorf, Germany
Genres Dance, pop, rap, funk
Years active 1988–1998
Labels Arista Records, BMG, Hansa Records, Taj
Associated acts Milli Vanilli, Rob & Fab

Robert "Rob" Pilatus (circa 1966[1] – 2 April 1998) was a German model, dancer, and singer. Pilatus was half of the pop music duo Milli Vanilli.


Early life[edit]

Rob Pilatus was born in Munich, Germany, the son of an American soldier and a German mother.[1] He was adopted as an infant by a German family.[1] Pilatus worked as a model and break dancer,[1] also appearing as a backing singer with the group Wind at the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest in Brussels before joining Fab Morvan in 1988 to form the pop group Milli Vanilli.[2]

Milli Vanilli[edit]

Pilatus and Morvan were noticed by music producer Frank Farian, who signed them to be part of a musical act. Shortly after a trip to Turkey, where the duo reputedly took its name from a local advertising slogan, Milli Vanilli was born. Pilatus and Morvan served as the public faces for singers Charles Shaw and Brad Howell, whom Farian thought were vocally talented but lacked a marketable image.[3]

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".[4] Milli Vanilli won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist on 21 February 1990, for "Girl You Know It's True".[5]

Despite the enormous success, the duo were a frequent target of rumours and allegations of onstage lip-synching and not having sung on the album. Charles Shaw, one of the actual vocalists, told a reporter the truth, but retracted his statement after Farian paid him $150,000.[6]

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 Milli Vanilli's Grammy Award was withdrawn four days later,[7] and Arista Records dropped them from its roster and deleted their album and songs from their catalog, making Girl You Know It's True the largest-selling album to ever be taken out of print. A court ruling in the United States allowed anyone who had bought the album to receive a refund.[8]

Farian later attempted an unsuccessful comeback for the group without Pilatus and Morvan. Months after the scandal, Pilatus and Morvan appeared in a commercial for Carefree sugarless chewing gum. In it the duo lip-synched to an opera recording. An announcer asked, "How long does the taste of Carefree Sugarless Gum last?" The record began to skip and the announcer added, "Until these guys sing for themselves."[9]

In 1992, Pilatus and Morvan signed with a new label, Taj, and released Rob & Fab, an album featuring their own voices; it sold a scant 2,000 copies.[3] The label went bankrupt shortly thereafter.[10]


In the years following the collapse of Milli Vanilli, Rob 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. Morvan paid for Pilatus to spend six months in drug rehabilitation, before returning to Germany from the United States.[11]

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 a hotel room in the Frankfurt area.[2][11] His death was ruled accidental. Back and in Attack has never been released.[12]

Pilatus is buried on the Waldfriedhof in Munich, Germany.[13]


On 14 February 2007, Universal Pictures announced it was developing a movie based on Milli Vanilli's rise and fall in the music industry. Jeff Nathanson, screenwriter for Catch Me If You Can, was slated to write and direct the film.[14][15]

Milli Vanilli Greatest Hits album[edit]

On 26 March 2007, the Greatest Hits album was released.


Milli Vanilli[edit]

Rob & Fab[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Staff (4/6/1998). "Milli Vanilli’s Pilatus Dead". MTV. Retrieved 1 October 2015.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ a b "Milli Vanilli's Pilatus Dead". 6 April 1998. Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Pilikington, Ed (7 February 2007). "Hollywood pays lip service to Milli Vanilli". London: Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  4. ^ "Milli Vanilli: Billboard Chart History". Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  5. ^ Guzmán, Rafer (10 February 2008). "Not every Grammy decision was a winner". Retrieved 25 July 2008. [dead link]
  6. ^ Goodman, Fred; Trakin, Roy (30 November 1990). "Artificial Vanilli". Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  7. ^ Holden, Stephen (5 December 1990). "Winner of Grammy Lost By Milli Vanilli: No One". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  8. ^ Dowell, Gary; Evans, Isaiah (Heritage Capital Corporation). Halperin, James L., ed. Heritage Music and Entertainment Dallas Signature Auction Catalog #622. Jones, Kim. 2006. p. 34. ISBN 1-59967-081-X.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Elliott, Stuart (14 June 1991). "Milli Vanilli Appears Again". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  10. ^ Strauss, Neil (7 April 1998). "Robert Pilatus, 33, Performer In Disgraced Band Milli Vanilli". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  11. ^ a b Chris, Willman. "The Sad Truth". p. 2. Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  12. ^ "Milli Vanilli's Pilatus Dead At 32". 7 April 1998. Retrieved 25 July 2008. [dead link][dead link]
  13. ^ "Wie meine Stimme ohne mich Karriere machte – Beerdigung von Robert Pilatus". Spiegel Online. 2 September 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  14. ^ Fleming, Michael. "Universal sets up Milli Vanilli film",, 14 February 2007.
  15. ^ Frehsee, Nicole. "Girl, You Know It's True: Milli Vanilli Biopic will reveal the truth (!)",, 20 February 2007.

External links[edit]