6 WTF Post-Fame Lives of One-Hit Wonders
If you find yourself in the fading light of being in a one-hit wonder band, you basically have two options: increasingly desperate attempts to extend your 15 minutes of fame, or quietly fading into obscurity. However, there's a third option that many don't know about: going completely insane. For example ...
One t.A.T.u Singer Became An Outspoken Homophobe
Remember t.A.T.u and their haphazard approach to capitalization? They were a Russian pop duo whose main hook was a faux-lesbian relationship between teenagers Julia Volkova and Lena Katina. Though the two often dodged questions about their sexuality and both went on to marry men, that didn't stop them from doing this.
Despite fizzling out over the course of the aughts, t.A.T.u managed to develop a dedicated gay following, and even appeared at a Moscow Pride event in 2007. That's fine. As Britney, Judy, Cher, and countless others have proven, you don't have to be gay to be a gay icon. You do have to not be a jerk to gay people, though -- which someone should have told Volkova before she appeared on a Ukrainian game show in 2014, where she said she wouldn't "accept a gay son" because she would want him "to be a real man, not a f**." She went so far as to declare that gay men were only "a little better" than "murderers, thieves, or drug addicts," and that "no man has a right to be a f**."
So wait, what was with all the lesbian stuff, then? "Two girls together -- not the same thing as the two men together," Volkova said. "It seems to me that lesbians look aesthetically much nicer than two men holding their hands or kissing." Oh, so homophobia is purely about aesthetics, then? Seems a little, what's the word ...?
The Former Bassist Of The Ataris Ran A Giant Scam (Allegedly)
Well, dedicated pop-punk fans and the victims of former bassist Michael Davenport's alleged $27 million real estate scam.
According to authorities, Davenport's company, American Standard, has bilked over 100,000 people out of money via shady telemarketing practices, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Essentially, they sold catalogs of foreclosed houses for $199 a pop, which is pretty decent for the kind of people who flip the broken dreams of home ownership for a quick profit. The problem was that a bunch of those houses straight up didn't exist.
To make matters worse, American Standard's refund process was a little unreasonable, requiring the signatures of five owners of homes in the catalog attesting that the customer had viewed their homes. Homes that didn't exist. If Davenport is convicted on all charges, he could spend up to 30 years in prison. It still won't make up for what he did to Don Henley.
One Half Of Milli Vanilli Spiraled Completely Out Of Control
Milli Vanilli's album Girl You Know It's True went platinum six times, and their music appeared in everything from Full House to The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros 3. (Yeah, the cartoon with Captain Lou Albano. They were that big a deal.)
During their short heyday, co-frontman Rob Pilatus was known for mouthing off, proclaiming the dance-pop duo to be more talented than Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and Mick Jagger. Even if you didn't know the epilogue to that story, you know that sort of hubris doesn't go unpunished. But Pilatus's downfall was so complete and sudden that you can't help but feel bad anyway.
The discovery that Milli Vanilli were a couple of lip-syncing frauds is the sort of "Icarus flying too close to the sun" story that you expect would humble the artists into self-reflection. And that happened for one half of them -- Fabrice Morvan, who buckled down and rebuilt a less flashy but still respectable music career for himself. But in the immediate aftermath of the scandal, Pilatus made multiple increasingly bold suicide attempts, and by the mid '90s, he'd embarked on a drug-fueled crime spree that included breaking and entering, assault, and vandalism.
After a few trips to rehab and eventually reuniting with Milli (or was he Vanilli?), things were starting to look up, and the two even planned a comeback album and tour. Unfortunately, the night before the tour's kickoff, Pilatus died of an overdose. The album was shelved and has never been released. So, uh ... to be safe, never proclaim yourself better than anybody, ever, under any circumstances.
Half The Guys From "Teach Me How To Dougie" Are Dead
Despite keeping this powerful knowledge to themselves, things ended badly for Cali Swag. "Two of its five members are now dead" bad.
Shortly after the success of their single, Monte Ray Talbert, aka M-Bone, was found dead at the wheel after an apparent drive-by shooting. It's possible the shooting was related to an online feud, stemmed from jealousy from residents of the group's old hood, or was simply good old-fashioned random violence. No one knows, because witnesses at the scene refused to cooperate with police. Maybe he got invited to that nice farm upstate where Tupac and Biggie live?
The senseless shooting of a promising young person is bad enough, but only a few years later, Cali Swag District lost another member. In 2014, Cahron "JayAre" Childs passed away suddenly due complications from sickle cell anemia. At this rate, we may never learn to Dougie.
LFO (The Band Behind "Summer Girls") Had A Tragic Ending
In 2010, group frontman Rich Cronin passed away from complications of leukemia, and in 2017, Devin Lima was diagnosed with Stage IV adrenal cancer. But this story isn't about them, because the post-fame life of the group's other third, Brad Fischetti, is way weirder. The guy who "stole your honey like I stole your bike" is now insisting that you keep the baby afterwards, as Brad hangs out at an abortion clinic to picket it during his spare time.
It would be one thing if that were the end of it. Everybody's entitled to freedom of assembly, even former boy band members. But Fischetti takes his vigils outside the Orlando Women's Center way too far, tweeting photos of patients and doctors' full names and phone numbers, encouraging his thousands of followers to harass them. He also tweets bizarre quotes that he claims came from clinic professionals, such as "We can't let them '2nds' (trimester) get away, 2 much $ n them," proving that his ability to make up things that sound like normal human words hasn't improved since 1999.
Right Said Fred Turned Out ... Kind Of Awesome?
Thanks to any movie or TV show that has ever had a makeover scene, Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" will never die.
Even Taylor Swift sampled it. That song alone could have kept sibling duo Fred and Richard Fairbrass in fishnet shirts for decades to come, but they weren't done. The host of the BBC's Gaytime TV (yep) in the '90s, Richard has long been a prominent member of the UK LGBT scene, but something happened in 2007 that convinced him he needed to become a political powerhouse. Shortly after announcing his intention to run for mayor of London, he set out for Moscow to attend a gay rights march, where he was brutally assaulted by counter-protesters. Far from being discouraged, Fairbrass went right home and marched some more.
Right Said Fred reached the height of political disco (which they almost certainly invented) when it was reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had downloaded some of their songs from iTunes. They responded with a full-on diss track against Assad, brazenly singing that he was "too awful for this earth," and a war criminal who should be tried for his offenses.
It turned out the one thing they weren't too sexy for was justice.
Kel Fabie is on Twitter @kelfabie, and also writes for 8List.PH. Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs. Rani Baker made the video game DEATH SWORD, which won "Most Innovative" at the Intel Buzz Indie Gamedev Showcase and was featured at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. You can support the project here. Greg Tuff is a Winnipeg-based writer who otherwise wouldn't get out enough to hear rap music.
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