John Davis, known as one of the true voices behind once-popular R&B group Milli Vanilli, has died at the age of 66 due to complications from the coronavirus, Variety reports. His daughter Jasmin confirmed the news via a Facebook post on May 24.
“My dad passed away this evening through the coronavirus,” Jasmin wrote. “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.”
Born in South Carolina (exact birth date unknown), Davis later moved to Germany, where he ended up providing some of the vocals for Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus, the frontmen for the infamous duo Milli Vanilli, who eventually became the face of a lip-synching scandal that eventually cost them their Grammy.
More information on Davis’ contribution to Milli Vanilli, via BBC:
Davis and other fellow session singers provided vocals on “Girl You Know It’s True,” but were only listed as backing singers, with Morvan and Pilatus falsely given credit.
The album became a worldwide hit, selling 11 million copies, propelled by its dance-pop title track and follow-up singles “Blame It On The Rain” and “Babe Don’t Forget My Number.”
Its success saw the duo win the 1990 Grammy Award for best new artist and compare themselves to Elvis in an interview with Time Magazine.
However, the group’s infamous lip-synching scandal—revealed by Farian amid intense speculation—sparked a fall from grace that remains one of the most embarrassing episodes in pop history.
Farian admitted he had hired Davis to cover for Morvan and Pilatus’ lack of “vocal quality”. Pilatus died in 1998 following an overdose at the age of 32.
Davis and the duo’s other original singer Brad Howell formed The Real Milli Vanilli and debuted their only album, The Moment of Truth in 1991.
Morvan (who performed alongside Davis in later years under the duo name Face Meets Voice) paid tribute to the late Davis on Monday via Twitter, writing, “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.”
The official Milli Vanilli Twitter account also posted a tribute which read, “It’s a sad day..RIP John. We wouldn’t be who we are without you…”.
Rest in power, John Davis.