Headlee: I got a job with Sandy Gallin’s management company as an assistant to the manager assigned to Milli Vanilli, and my first job was to find them a house in Beverly Hills. I was given $20,000 to furnish it, which was a lot at that time. I had to do everything down to the toothbrushes, because they were moving to America to do the Club MTV tour with Paula Abdul, Tone Loc and Information Society.
Louis Messina (Club MTV tour promoter): The tour was my idea… I was watching Club MTV -- I grew up in the American Bandstand era and I remember Dick Clark had his Cavalcade of Stars that he would take on the road -- and I called and asked if they wanted to take Club MTV on the road and have [MTV personality] Downtown Julie Brown host it. Paula was hot as hot could be and so were Milli Vanilli, they were a monster at the time. They had never toured before, because they were these make-believe characters, but I didn’t know that [they weren’t singing at all] until everything about them came out.
Wieger: That Club MTV tour was so big, because it gave us an opportunity to get them in front of fans without them having to do the traditional meet-and-greets, the morning zoo radio slots and afternoon visits to retail. It was soundcheck, show and then the next city.
Headlee: It was a lip sync tour -- everyone was [singing to track] on it. It was a different time then, when videos were the important thing for selling music, and people went to concerts expecting the same dancing and sound from videos. And you can’t sing live and dance and have the same sound as on the record. Production became a big part of the concerts.
Downtown Julie Brown (former MTV VJ, Club MTV host): Everyone was singing to track on that tour. Was (Not Was) was live, because the whole band was studio singers anyway -- but we were so used to being on Club MTV, where it wasn’t so much about who had the best voice, just as long as you could perform and give the audience exactly what they wanted. They wanted to see you perform and touch you. That was the fun of that whole clubby vibe. Milli Vanilli definitely brought that to them.
Eliot Sekuler (MV’s outside publicist): I was on the MTV tour already with Paula... where [a number of the acts] were just singing to a recording. [Milli Vanilli] had a fairly elaborate playback system for its time, a digital device that was unusual for them. And it failed. It got stuck while they were on stage.
Steve Leeds (former director of on-air talent/ special projects for MTV): One of my projects was the Club MTV tour and Milli Vanilli were up-and-coming at the time and seemed like a great fit. We were playing Summerfest in Milwaukee [at the beginning of the tour], and they had this elaborate stage that was like a pyramid. Each guy would walk up on the sides and meet up at the top and body slam into each other and start singing.
It was a hot, sticky day and there were 22,000 people, sold out, and Milli Vanilli had this big live band, and then there was a track. It starts [hums "dun-dun-dun-dun"] and then the two guys come jumping out, getting hands in the air, and they’re waiting for the vocal track to come in -- and after seven times of it coming around, it was apparent that the vocal track wasn’t coming on. They ran offstage, punched [their tour manager] in the chest and locked themselves in their tour bus.