This page considers forgery and fraud in music and other
It covers -
supplements discussion elsewhere on this site of regarding
Pop group Milli Vanilli was exposed in 1990 as having
been dubbed by anonymous studio singers, resulting in
loss of their Grammy award.
The boy band had sold 30 million singles and 11 million
albums but at a 1989 live concert in Connecticut the recording
of Girl You Know It's True jammed, causing one
line to repeat ... and repeat. It became clear that the
singers had merely been lip synching.
One half of the duo revealed in 1990 that he had not been
involved in the recording, prompting class action lawsuits
from record buyers and concert goers.
In 2007 it was revealed
that many recordings by UK pianist Joyce Hatto (1928-2006)
were in fact recordings by other pianists such as Lazlo
Simon, Eugen Indjic, Yefim Bronfman, Minoru Nojima and
Carlo Grante. By late 2007 it was clear that perfomances
by Hatto were in fact those by some 68
pianists and that collaborators such as supposed conductor
René Köhler were non-existent.
Hatto was promoted as a neglected genius and the "greatest
living pianist that almost no one has ever heard of"
but is likely to be remembered as the name in front of
a clumsy fraud, initially detected when metadata
in recordings on CD identified the performer as someone
Some reviews quoted by her promoter appear to have been
concocted, as were claims that she became the preferred
interpreter of Arnold Bax, worked with Vaughan Williams
and Britten and had been praised by Hindemith as possessing
technique beyond prestidigitation … Her wonderful
independence of line would surely have seduced Johann
Sebastian into composing another 'Forty Eight' just
claims presumably contributed to characterisation of Hatto
as "the Baroness Munchhausen of classical music".
Denis Dutton commented that in Hatto's supposed late-life
project to record most of the standard classical repertoire
her performance showed
masterful technique, a preternatural ability to adapt
to different styles and a depth of musical insight hardly
seen elsewhere.... Intriguingly, she gave to the music
a developed although oddly malleable personality. She
could do Schubert in one style, and then Prokofiev almost
as though she was a new person playing a different piano
— an astonishing, chameleon-like artistic ability.
is now clear that there were different people using different
pianos, none of whom were named Hatto. Andrew Rose commented
are a lot of critics and publications with egg on their
faces. ... She was almost a cult figure and people wanted
to believe her story. The idea was that she had cancer
and didn't want to be seen so her husband built a studio
for her, but nobody explained how they managed to squeeze
an entire orchestra in there. It's just jaw-dropping
and so outrageous and audacious it's almost impossible
to believe it's been done.
of September 2007 there appears to have been no litigation
by record companies (unauthorised copying and editing
of their disks), by the individuals whose performances
were blithely appropriated (moral
rights) or by consumer protection bodies.
Questions of sincerity rather than appropriation are explored
in Faking It: the quest for authenticity in popular
music (London: Faner 2007) by Hugh Barker & Yuval