Over 25yrs ago, Paula Abdul burst into the spotlight. The song and dance girl emerged as a choreographer on the Tracey Ullman Show to a global superstar. Before launching her music career, Paula was choreographing music videos for Janet Jackson and Prince.
In 1988, Paula Abdul released her first album “Forever Your Girl.” The lead single “Knocked Out” began to get traction on MTV. But it wasn’t until “Straight Up,” did the world begin to take notice. Only until recently, after being bumped to number 3 by Adele, Paula’s “Forever Your Girl” reigned as the second longest charting album on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Abdul enjoyed further success with release of subsequent albums, 1991’s “Spellbound” and 1995’s “Head over Heals.”
Due to chronic pain associated with neck and back injuries from a cheerleading fall (former Laker Girl), dance, car accidents and even a plane crash. Paula put her career on pause until she landed at the judges table on American Idol.
At 53 years old, Paula is teaming up with New Kids On The Block and Boyz II Men on The Total Package Tour. Kicking off in May with a show at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio. The tour runs through July 16 with a show at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.
In the late 80s and early 90s the German pop duo Milli Vanilli were at the top of the charts with the hits “Girl You Know It’s True,” “Baby Don’t Forget My Number,” “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You” and “Blame It On The Rain.” That is, until it all came crashing down when it discovered they had not actually sung on any of their records. The controversy became one of the biggest scandals in pop music history. In 1990, Milli Vanilli after much public ridicule and humiliation decided it was the right thing to do to give back their Grammy award for Best New Artist.
Milli Vanilli fronted by the beautiful Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were striking. Their muscled bodies, dance moves and long dreadlocks had the attention of teenage girls, women and this 13yr old gay boy’s attention. Fab and Rob were two of my first same-sex crushes. I remember wanting to one day date or look like them.
Fab and Rob’s story is not usual in the entertainment industry. They were taken advantage of by Frank Farian, a shady record producer who founded the group. Frank paid them a cash advance. Being starving artists, they spent all of the money on clothes and other essiental living expenses. Farian then told them they had to lip sync or repay the advance in full. They were basically trapped.
Fab and Rob fell victim to the machine and succumbed to drugs. They would later record an album using their own voices. Many were surprised they could actually sing. But personal struggles held them back. Especially Rob, who attempted suicides and spent time in prison. In 1998, at age 33, Rob Pilatus was found dead of a suspected overdose. He paid the ultimate price.
Fab Morvan would continue working on solo projects. He has never stopped recording. In fact, he just released a new track “Whistle.” An infectious vocal house collaboration with DJ/Producer duo Desert Minds out of Den Haag in the Netherlands. I caught up with Fab to chat about his new music and his infamous past.
Besides being an entertainer, you are a survivor. How did you manage to persevere during difficult times?
I realized real quick that basking in my misery wasn’t the answer. This is why I told myself “you fell but you’re gonna have to stand back up and move forward.” It’s been my motto ever since. Life ain’t easy, it’s a fact we all have to deal with no matter who you are. Life is full of surprises, ups and downs, those challenges will help define you and how strong you truly are.
What do you miss from the Milli Vanilli days? What don’t you miss?
What I miss the most from the Milli Vanilli days is performing with Rob in front of thousands of adoring fans…nothing compares to that electrifying feeling. What I don’t miss is, the drugs, the excess and the media scrutiny.
Tell me about your evolution as an artist. How did you find your “voice?”
My love for music always ran deep. Rob and I recorded an album We Can Get It On. A few years later, right around Rob’s death, I recorded a solo album Love Revolution with live instruments, I wrote and co-produced. I dedicated a song for him “It’s Your Life” and was planning on giving it to him but unfortunately…it was too late. I’m very eclectic when it comes my taste in music, I don’t like to be bound to one feel, I like to mix things up. This is how I found my own voice, anyone can go on Youtube and check out my musical journey through the years. I have a great affinity for house music, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. I deejay and sing at the same time for corporate events, clubs, private parties.
What type of music do you enjoy most?
It all has to do with my mood, in the morning for instance, classical. Each week I pick new music: Dance music, House, and the many different styles which fall under that umbrella. Rap, Hip Hop, Dance Hall, Jazz, Latin sounds, Funk Rock, Blues, Reggae etc…as long as it moves me, no matter the time period.
Describe your new track, “Whistle.”
Desert Minds produced it, I came up with the lyrics in honor of the night, since it’s played a major role in my life as long as I can remember. Going out for the first time in the clubs in Paris, finally old enough to experience being up until sunrise. In my music career, entering the recording studio before midnight, coming out in the early mornings, I associate the night-time with freedom, creativity, performing, mystery, spontaneity. You can expect more from this partnership.
What else are you working on?
I’m also part of a project “Face Meets Voice” with one of the original vocalists of Milli Vanilli, John Davis. We’ve been touring throughout Europe, performing the old hits and about to sign a new deal…the best is yet to come!