Boney M. Biography

In 1976, German-based producer and composer Frank Farian invented a group to front a single he had already recorded, ‘Baby Do You Wanna Bump?’, which sold well in Belgium and Holland. The line-up was Marcia Barrett (14 October 1948, Jamaica; vocals), Bobby Farrell (b. 6 October 1949, Aruba, West Indies; vocals), Liz Mitchell (b. 12 July 1952, Clarendon, Jamaica; vocals) and Maizie Williams (b. 25 March 1951, Monserrat, West Indies; vocals). Between 1976 and 1977, the group enjoyed four UK Top 10 hits with ‘Daddy Cool’, ‘Sunny’, ‘Ma Baker’ and ‘Belfast’. Their peak period, however, was 1978 when the chart-topping ‘Rivers Of Babylon’/‘Brown Girl In The Ring’ spent 40 weeks on the UK chart, becoming the second bestselling UK single in history at that time. Its follow-up, ‘Rasputin’, climbed to number 2 and Boney M. ended 1978 with the festive chart-topper ‘Mary Boy’s Child - Oh My Lord’. They experienced similarly phenomenal success in Europe (over 50 million total sales). Their unusual choice of material was emphasized the following year with a revival of Creation’s ‘Painter Man’, which reached the Top 10. The singalong ‘Hooray Hooray It’s A Holi-Holiday’ and ‘Gotta Go Home’/‘El Lute’ were their last Top 20 hits, after which their appeal declined. The chart-topping compilation The Magic Of Boney M. neatly punctuated the group’s extraordinary hit career in 1980.

Farrell was fired in 1981 and replaced by Reggie Tsiboe. He rejoined the group for 1985’s Eye Dance, but the following year Boney M split-up. The original line-up reconvened two years later to promote a remix compilation. With tensions running high between the group members, Mitchell left to join Tsiboe in Farian’s rival version of Boney M. The ensuing court case ruled that all four original members were entitled to perform as Boney M., with Mitchell’s version being acknowledged as the ‘official’ version. By 1994 there were three versions of the group in existence, keeping the Boney M. name alive on the cabaret circuit.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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