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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 11:19 GMT
Whatever happened to Boney M?
Boney M
Many people remember 1970s disco stars, Boney M
With their wide-legged satin and fur trimmed costumes, wild hair and bizarre dance routines, few could ever forget '70s disco stars, Boney M.

In their heyday, they sold 80 million records and in 1978 the chart-topping Rivers Of Babylon/Brown Girl In The Ring spent 40 weeks on the UK chart, becoming the second best-selling UK single in history at the time and it remains Britain's fifth best-selling single of all time.

But 25 years after their first UK single, Daddy Cool hit the UK charts, the band members seem to have faded into relative obscurity.

Former Boney M lead singer, Liz Mitchell told the BBC World Service's Postmark Africa programme that the band drifted apart following a break from the spotlight in 1986.

The actual people who did the singing, which is Marcia Barrett and myself, didn't get any credit

Liz Mitchell

"By 1987, the rest of the group felt that a three-month break was long enough and they wanted to go back on the road, doing their own things.

"Hence the court cases started between the other three members and the band's producer."


The band behind such happy sounds as Sunny and Hooray Hooray It's A Holi-Holiday, were plagued with tensions, deception and, in the end, legal action.

Since the original band's demise indications of their unhappiness have occasionally surfaced.

Speaking to the UK press last year, Mitchell warned other manufactured pop acts to be wary of greedy record companies - Boney M reputedly only received 9% of the profits from their music.

Worldwide success

Boney M were created by the German-based producer and composer Frank Farian in 1976.

He invented the group to perform a song that he had already recorded and the line-up comprised of Marcia Barrett, Liz Mitchell, Maizie Williams and Bobby Farell.

Together they enjoyed worldwide success for 10 years as they danced and, reportedly, mimed to happy songs.

But a reputation for being a manufactured band did not please singer Liz Mitchell.

"The actual people who did the singing, which is Marcia Barrett and myself, didn't get any credit," she said.

Frank Farian was the male vocal that you hear with Boney M, but he never appeared on stage, choosing instead to be represented by the wild haired Bobby Farrell.

You hear The Rivers Of Babylon and it's my voice and he would just be there growling

Liz Mitchell

"He obviously thought himself not presentable enough to perform to the voice," Mitchell explained.

She added: "It was understandable because Frank Farian is a white German and the music of Boney M was West Indian, American, African rhythm."


The myth of Boney M was easily sustained as long as the members played together, but when they decided to pursue solo careers, the problems began.

Liz Mitchell
Now performing as Boney M featuring Liz Mitchell

According to Mitchell, as many as five bands tour under the name Boney M and she warns audiences to beware of pale imitations of the disco stars.

Such performances Mitchell fears, only serve to reinforce the image of Boney M as an elaborate mime act.

It also does little to help fans who long to resurrect hits such as Rasputin.

"If you want to pay your money to see Boney M, you've got to have me on stage. Frank Farian and me are the sound of Boney M," she said.


Money, Mitchell says, was never her main motivation.

She said: "I never recorded the music because I wanted to be a millionaire. I recorded it because I love music."

And to avoid any confusion she now performs as Boney M featuring Liz Mitchell.

Boney M's Liz Mitchell
"Beware of imitations"
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