Before we dive into how bahamas, moonlight fever and dancing made this band famous, let’s talk about their origins. The group was not your average pop music duo!
The members of Boney M were not just two people who sang songs together. They were three separate artists with different styles that came together to create something new.
Yen van de Parmele (Liesbeth) – vocals
Nermin - lead singer
Frank Farian – composer and lyrics
Ali Akbar – bassist and backing vocalists
They all had successful solo careers before joining forces under Frank Fariandesigned as a brand.
Van de Parmereluded her first singing career in her native Dutch language after she graduated from college. After moving to Germany for work, she took voice lessons and began performing there. She landed a job as a receptionist at a radio station where she would sing covers and learn more songwriting. This led to an offer to join a local band as their singer.
After leaving that band, she met Nermine, who asked if she wanted to try writing and recording some songs of his own. He played guitar so they worked on those together. Over time he got better at it and started offering them up as compositions. That is when they decided to form a group together.
Their first big break happened while working as opening acts for German bands touring England.
After meeting with record executives at CBS Records, singer Diana Ross asked if they had any songs for an international group. The music industry does not have too many groups that are made of more than one member, so she was surprised when they said yes!
The recording company gave them a song it thought would be perfect for such a group – “Riddle Of The Sphinx”. It was written by Andy Goldmark and Phil Harding and originally performed by British band OMD (Ordinary Man's Dream).
Boney M took this song and re-arranged and re-sung some parts to make it work better for them as a group.
After recording their first EP, which consisted of three songs, In The Heat Of The Night, One More Time and Looking For A Love Tomorrow, the band went back into the studio to record their next full-length album. They already had a working title for it — Press To Play — but now they needed a final name.
The team brainstormed potential names before settling on Decade. Why? Because the music that bops group members Ralf Becker (vocals), Klaus Bulling (lead guitar), Stefan Görele (rhythm guitar) and Frank Gierig (bass) make is totally infectious! It’s hard to get out of bed or stop dancing when you are listening to one of their tracks.
That said, there’s more to Boney M than just your average dance track. Their lyrics deal with issues such as racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.
After breaking through with their first two albums, Boney M. went back into the studio to create their third LP. Released in May of 1983 was Reaching Out! The lead single from this new album was “Sunny”, an uptempo dance song that would go on to win three Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.
The music video for "Sunny" features all five members performing choreographed dances together while also featuring some impressive dancing by each member individually. All five women are very attractive and perform various sex appeal moves as they dance.
Their ever-expanding fan base helped spread the word about the group to other people. Many fans started creating their own bands or groups inspired by Boney M., which only helps them continue to succeed and grow in popularity.
After their first success, Boney M. did not slow down at all! They quickly released another studio album that contained even more songs of theirs you have heard before. This album had three new tracks and five re-recorded older ones!
The newly recorded songs were “Daddy Love”, “Sunny”, and “Rivers Of Babylon (Never Make Me Cry)”. All these songs are about relationships, love, and sex.
"Daddy Love" is an upbeat song with light lyrics such as "Daddy I'm so lonely without you/ Daddy I need some lovin' from you". It is very catchy and simple to listen to.
"Sunny" is a bit darker than the other songs on this album. The lyrics describe someone who feels hurt by something or someone, but then they find happiness somewhere else. According to the singer of the song, the word sunny means having hope in life.
After leaving Columbia Records, Günter Fintler formed his own label, Wall Music, and re-released their first three albums under that name. This renewed popularity for the band allowed them to tour internationally again!
Boney M’s success was not limited to just music production and marketing. The members of the group actively participated in several other ventures outside of performing. In fact, the member’s individual careers are quite successful today!
Fernando produced two Spanish language studio recordings, which were both number one hits. He also starred as Don Diego de la Vega in the 1986 hit TV show “Soy Luna” (I am the Moon).
Rikki Kaa later had her own show, titled Rikki Kaaa – La Película (The Movie) and she has done many more acting projects since then. She even won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2002 for her performance in Frida.
Janos Prohaska continued creating music after he left the band. Since 1983, he has recorded eight solo LPs and five compilations with various artists. His most recent album is called Just Listen.
With all these different career paths, it seems clear that each member found personal fulfillment beyond singing and dancing. Fernando now makes money producing sound effects and music for video games, while Janos writes songs and studies voice theory.
With their third studio album, Moonraker, they continued to explore new musical territory for them while also staying true to what made them famous before. As with their previous albums, each song on this one had an individual theme or story, which were often related to other songs in some way.
However, instead of having just one main character, like most bands at that time, there are two characters in almost every song. This gave the music more depth as you get to hear both sides’ perspectives and how they relate to each other.
The first side is Steve (Michael Jackson) and his friend Henri (Ralph Schindler), who go on several adventures around London. These include going to a boat race, visiting the zoo, and even traveling outside of England!
At the end of the album, these two friends part ways after making significant personal discoveries about each other. Michael then invites him to visit him in California where he will show him all of his secrets.
Their second studio album, Electric Circus, was released in May of that year. The lead single off this album was their new hit song “Rasputin”. This song gained them even more fame as it peaked at number one for five weeks in Australia!
Boney M never truly broke through in America outside of the early years, but they did have some success here and elsewhere around the world. They had six top 40 singles in all with three of those reaching the top 10. Two other songs made it into the top 20- “Brown Girl in the Ring” and “Sunny”. Both of these songs are pretty well known though so I will not include them here.
They also won two Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording in 1987 and 1988 for the tracks “Cool People” and “Happy Birthday” respectively.
Released in May 1983, Reaching Out was even better than Midnight Sun. Not only did it top the charts around the world, but it also gave them their first number one single with “Rivers of Paradise”. This song became an iconic staple for the band and still gets played frequently today!
Boney M made their comeback at the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton England where they won second place (behind ABBA). Since then, they have gone on to win many awards including seven Grammy Awards. They remain one of the most successful bands ever!
Their success has been very diverse – from singing songs in other languages to having your own theme park!
This article will discuss some of the factors that helped make this music group famous!
Originality is key
Klara Ferencz, who sang as Bobby Lee, said how she felt pressured by record companies to do what everyone else was doing before. She noticed that a lot of artists seem to copy each other’s styles, which may be why people get tired of listening to the same songs over and over again.
That isn’t to say that copying things is bad, but original singers are needed to keep people interested in music.
It is important to note that being original does not mean sticking to conventions of music.