Pettaway: I kept doing what I was doing, working at the gas station, and maybe a year later I hear a song that sounded like it on the radio. I said, "They had the same ideas I had!” Then I said, “Wait, that sounds pretty close to everything I did.”
Liles: Since then I’d put out other records, started my own label and I thought nothing else would happen with the record. I’m laying in my room with my girlfriend [not the one he originally wrote it for] and I’m falling asleep and she says, “Kevin, isn’t that your record?” And I said, “yeah, they play it on the radio all the time.” But she said, “No, but this is on MTV!” I said, “I never made a video.” So I woke up and it was Milli Vanilli singing my song!
Spen: I’m in Baltimore City and we didn’t even have cable there. I was getting all these calls saying someone is stealing our song, these guys jumping around with dreadlocks. We only had three or four TV stations at the time, so when I turned on ABC and saw someone singing our song, I was like, “Whoa!” That’s how I discovered it.
Pettaway: A friend of mine said, “I heard your song on the radio.” But I never heard it until a guy from Germany got in touch and said, “I love your song.” I said “the Numarx one?” and he said, “No, Milli Vanilli.” I’d never heard of them, but the song was playing and playing and getting bigger by the day. The next thing you know people were showing up at the gas station, saying, “Your song is really big.” Then I heard it again and I said, “That is MY song!”
Liles: My first reaction was, “Is this the music business? I write a song, put it out and someone can just take it from me?” It was at that moment in time in my life I said, “I don’t want to be in the music business, I want to be in the business of music.”
Adeyemo: At the time we didn’t know who the producer was but we saw the album or the 45 and it had these two guys on it… Then the rumors came out and we were like, “they can’t even speak English!” [Laughs.]
Liles: A guy named C.W. Shaw [the rapper on the Milli Vanilli version, Charles Shaw] sent me a letter saying he was an Army guy from Houston living in Germany and said “I’m the voice of Milli Vanilli.” I’m like, “What the f--k? What is going on?” He said, “I heard the record when you guys put it on on ZYX” -- that was the label that put our version out [overseas]. I didn’t even know my version of the record was out in London on Bluebird, or in Japan. I come to find out that the guy who owned Studio Records had licensed it to those territories without getting my approval.
Adeyemo: Then it got to Milli Vanilli, they recorded it and the owner of the company sold it [without our knowledge]. Bill and I copyrighted it, he sold it to a guy in Europe at Bluebird Records, it became an underground hit in Europe and Farian went in the studio and copied it. All Frank did was take the back hook [“Girl you know it’s true, my love… ooh ooh ooh I love you”] and put it with the other hook and the rest is music history.