They may have been famous over 40 years ago — but Boney M is now a TikTok sensation. The band’s 1978 classic Rasputin’s song has had 22 billion hits on the social media channel since Russia invaded Ukraine.
And their distinctive brand of pop, which saw the group rack up 10 UK Top 10 hits – including two Number Ones – continues to inspire today’s stars like Lady Gaga.
While artists like Beyoncé talk about juggling stardom with motherhood, Boney M’s original member Liz Mitchell said being a working mom in the music industry was “a battle.”
Jamaican-born Liz was asked to join the group when she was spotted at a musical production of Hair in Germany. Boney M went on to have several great hits worldwide, including Rivers Of Babylon, Daddy Cool, and Mary’s Boy Child.
A disco act put together by German music producer Frank Farian, the group was a chart staple before breaking up in the 1980s. A number of reunions confirmed that they haven’t fallen off the radar.
Bobby Farrell – dancer, DJ and the only man in the group – died of heart failure in 2010 while visiting St. Petersburg.
And it was Russia’s turbulent history that proved the catalyst for one of its greatest successes. It was Rasputin’s song about the self-appointed satanic holy man by Tsar Nicholas II and his family under his spell.
When Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine last year, the strike gave a new lease on life.
Liz said: “We’ve had 22 billion hits on TikTok since the war. It’s people all over the world, even my grandkids. It’s just a song they love.”
The mother-of-three, who is performing solo at the Henley Festival, in Oxfordshire, on July 9, near the home she shares with husband, music manager Thomas Pemberton, is proud of Boney M’s enduring success.
Lady Gaga made another great take, Ma Baker, about a mobster mother and her gun-wielding sons, in her 2008 classic Poker Face.
Liz, who has four grandchildren, said: “Music still reverberates around the world and young people like my grandchildren have found it for themselves.
“I don’t give it to them, I don’t listen to my music myself, one of my grandchildren just came across it.”
And she laughed, “It’s hard for them to understand because I’m just a grandmother — and then I’m not just a grandmother.”
At 70, she’s still not keen on putting her feet up.
But reflecting on her early touring years and regrets about leaving her children at home, she said: “Women have always had a hard time in this field whether we want to talk about it or not. You always have to be feminine but stand up for yourself. And the judgment that follows.”
“I wanted to focus on being a mother and that’s the hardest thing when you’re out there, trying to do that, touring and wanting a family.”
And she continued, “When my daughter Adiru was a baby, she went to France.
“She was two and a half months old and I was breastfeeding at the time.
“When it was six o’clock and her milk was due, I was supposed to be on stage. My clothes were soaked in water. It’s not easy.
“That’s the other thing I would do differently. If I had kids and I was on the road now, I’d take them with me. It hurts so much when you leave them behind like I did.”
“Now I know that was a mistake and I must take them with me.”
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