The band with its roots in West Germany comprised of Liz Mitchell, Maizie Williams, Marcia Barrett, and Bobby Farrell.Their music represented a fusion of Pop, Disco and Europop. The history of the band can be traced to the song “Baby Do You Wanna Bump”( Dec 1974).As the song produced by the German Frank Farian turned into a popular single in the Netherlands and Belgium ,he wanted to expand horizons by lending it a “front’ for the visual media,and therefore called for performers. Boney M was a pseudonym adopted by Frank Farian after the Australian detective series that he was obsessed with. As time progressed,it brought together the main leads model-turned-singer Maizie Williams, the exotic male dancer from Aruba- Bobby Farrell, Singer Marcia Barrett(Jamaican) and Liz Mitchell(an ex-singer of the Les Humphries).They rendered chart-toppers to all-time classics.
As the group’s first album Take the Heat Off Me, released in 1976,the initial response was a moderate one. In order to earn fame and name, the band frequented discos, clubs and rural carnivals .Eventually they got the big break they aspired for as German television producer Michael ‘Mike’ Leckebusch (of Radio Bremen) invited the band for his program Musikladen. Boney M. performed live on this musical extravaganza on September 18, 1976.Immediately the song “Daddy Cool” raced up the charts in Germany. It was followed by another hit single “Sunny”. Daddy Cool reigned over the no.1 position not only in Germany,but also in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Austria. Both singles ruled the Top 10 hits in the UK that later went on to become one of their major markets. The group’s second album, Love for Sale featured the hits “Ma Baker” and “Belfast” The band’s first debut concert was with a live group of musicians -‘The Black Beautiful Circus’ .
The turning point in their career came in 1978. Rivers of Babylon/Brown Girl in the Ring” turned out to be a huge hit all over Europe, raced to #1 position in several countries and .It also holds the distinction of being “one of the biggest selling singles of all time in the UK.” Moreover, the song, peaking at #30 ,is their most successful single in the United States. “Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord”( 1978) was the Christmas #1 single in the United Kingdom and turned out to be yet another all time biggest selling single. The band’s popularity peaked during this period. “Hooray! Hooray! It’s A Holi-Holiday”?(1979) found its way to the Top 10 chart across Europe. Boney M’s fourth album-Oceans of Fantasy featured again two hits singles – “”Gotta Go Home”/”El Lute” and “I’m Born Again”/”Bahama Mama”. “No More Chain Gang” represented a black freedom song. The album was certified Platinum, made it to the no.1 slot in the UK. 1980 saw Boney M. release their greatest hits album, The Magic of Boney M. – 20 Golden Hits, that had two new songs, “My Friend Jack” and “I See a Boat on the River”. It raced to the number one spot in the UK, attaining Gold status just six weeks after release. Nevertheless, it proved to be their last popular album in the UK.
The group that delivered ever-green hits split during the mid 1980s ,and went two ways with one member in each group still bearing the legendary ‘Boney M ‘ label. October 1988 saw Boney M. reunite for the classic album Greatest Hits of All Times – Remix ’88 ,but differences set them apart yet again. Bobby Farrell, could be seen as a dancer in the 2005 Roger Sanchez video ‘Turn on the music’. The legend currently resides at Amsterdam. The lead female singer of the band, Liz Mitchell went single with her 5th solo album entitled ‘Liz Mitchell sings the hits of Boney M’ (2005)-Now settled at Oxfordshire countryside, she makes a living singing at pubs and clubs “with the most successful of the Boney M franchises”. Marcia Barrett, the vocalist, brought out her second album ‘Come Into My Life’ (2005),and now stays at Florida battling cancer. Maizie Williams also released her first record in 2006. The legend now limits herself to performing cabaret acts to entertain pubs and clubs.
In the film Tulpan(2008), the tractor driver Boni repeatedly listens to Rivers of Babylon, showcasing his affinity for the Western way of life. It exemplifies how the music of Boney M has come to stand as a metaphor for something larger than life-or rather, as a culture in its own right.
The group that once used to thrill us does not exist as the organic whole it was. Nevertheless, their music continues to enchant generations to come.