Roberto Alfonso Farrell October 6 1949 – December 30 2010, San Nicolaas, Aruba
In the early 1970s, he was the lead singer of the disco and pop group Boney M, which produced some of the most iconic hits of the decade. Farrell grew up on the island of Aruba in the Dutch colony of Curaçao and Dependencies (now known as the Netherlands Antilles). After finishing high school at the age of 15, he became a sailor for two years before moving to Norway, where he spent the rest of his life. Later, he moved to the Netherlands where he found occasional work as a DJ before moving to Germany where he found better employment opportunities. When he was in Germany, he worked mostly as a DJ until producer Frank Farian spotted him for the upcoming Boney M. recording project. Bobby became the group’s sole male singer, but Farian later revealed that Bobby made almost no vocal contributions to the group’s recordings, with Farian performing the male parts of the songs in the studio while Bobby performed the female parts. According to Liz Mitchell, only she, Marcia Barrett, and Farian were involved in the recording of the hit recordings. Nevertheless, Farrell did have the chance to perform live with some of the various incarnations of Boney M., including the 1970’s incarnation that had the biggest influence on him. After clashes with Farian, he left the group in 1981. As a result, Reggie Tsiboe was appointed to replace him. It was in 1984 that he re-joined the band and remained a member until 1986, when it finally split.
The daughter of Farrell, Zanillya Farrell, says that after the band split up, Farrell lost all his income because Farian deprived him of his rights to the band’s hits. This caused him to lose all his savings.
When Dad asked Farian for 100,000 marks, he was told to sign some papers before he would get them. As a result, he signed away everything – image rights, royalties, everything. There was nothing left for him when he lost everything. It was necessary for us to move in with my grandmother in the Netherlands and live on welfare as a result. As a result, Dad started getting angry a lot more after that. Mum was very smart and she realized that if you own the name, you can use it as long as you own it. Boney M. had not been registered by Farian in any part of the world. That’s why Dad was able to perform in certain countries because of that.
Despite the fact that he was no longer a member of the band, he performed the band’s hits with his own group under the name Bobby Farrell’s Boney M. He also appeared as a dancer in the Roger Sanchez video clip of “Turn on the Music” in late 2005.
There was a period in Farrell’s life when he lived in Amsterdam, in the neighborhood of Gaasperdam in the borough of Amsterdam-Zuidoost, where he lived for many years.
It was in 1981 that he married Macedonian Romani Jasmina Shaban. They had a daughter named Zanillya in 1983, and a son named Zanin in 1986. Their relationship ended in 1995 when they split up.
In the morning of 30 December 2010, Farrell died of heart failure after performing with his band the evening before, in a hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. His agent, John Seine, stated that Farrell had complained of breathing problems after performing with his band the night before. Hotel staff discovered Farrell’s body after he failed to respond to a call for help. He happened to die on the same date and in the same city as Grigori Rasputin, the subject of one of his group’s most iconic songs, and a character he had dressed up as for a few of his live performances. It is believed that he is buried at the Zorgvlied cemetery in Amsterdam, where he was born.
He has a daughter, Zanillya Farrell, who is a rapper. It was in December 2011 when she won the Dutch music prize Grote Prijs van Nederland in the category of hip-hop music.