Friday, February 27, 2009

Boney M.

Boney M.

Boney M. is a West Germany-based pop and disco group created by West German record producer Frank Farian. The four original members of the group's official lineup were Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett (Jamaica), Maizie Williams (Montserrat), and Bobby Farrell (Aruba).

Frank Farian (Franz Reuther), German schlager singer, wasn't happy with the choice of material his record company wanted him to sing. He went into the studio in December 1974 and recorded the song single "Baby Do You Wanna Bump?", a monotonous dance track, singing the repeated "Do you do you wanna bump?" in a deep voice (entirely studio created) as well as performing the high female chorus vocals in his falsetto voice. The record came out, credited to "Boney M." Frank Farian had been watching an Australian detective show, where the lead character was called Boney, and Farian decided that this would make a good name for a group, and added the M. After a slow start it became a hit in the Netherlands and Belgium. It was then that Farian decided to hire a team to 'front' the group for TV performances. A booking agency (Katja Wolfe) found model-turned-singer Maizie Williams (originally from Montserrat) and her Jamaican friend and singer Sheyla Bonnick for him, and a dancer called Mike for the first gigs. Also during 1975, a girl named Nathalie joined but was soon replaced by Claudja Barry. Then Bonnick and Mike left, and Maizie Williams brought in an exotic dancer from Aruba, Bobby Farrell. Singer Marcia Barrett (Jamaica) reluctantly joined the group, which went through another change in line-up when Claudja Barry – tired of merely lip-synching – left in February 1976 to pursue a solo career as a disco singer. Finally Liz Mitchell, an unemployed singer and former member of the Les Humphries Singers, stepped in – and the final line-up was found at last with Maizie Williams, Marcia Barrett, Liz Mitchell and Bobby Farrell.

Farian began recording Boney M.'s first LP, Take the Heat Off Me, for which Marcia Barrett had already recorded some songs with Farian: these were the title track and "Lovin' or Leavin'", both previously recorded in German by another Farian act, Gilla. While Maizie Williams' voice wasn't considered good enough for recording purposes by Farian, and a try-out with Bobby Farrell doing "No Woman No Cry" didn't work, Farian decided to use only Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett along with his own studio created deep male voice and high falsetto voice to create the Boney M. sound.

The commercial response to the album was initially lukewarm. However, the group rigorously toured discos, clubs and even country fairs, to earn a reputation for themselves. The group's big break came when, at the end of that summer, music-TV-producer Michael 'Mike' Leckebusch of Radio Bremen, requested the group for his show Musikladen. Boney M. appeared on the live music show on September 18, 1976, after 10 pm, in their now trademark daring costumes; by the end of the following week, "Daddy Cool" became Germany's #1 single in the charts. The album was to follow the success of the single.