Maizie Williams, singer, Boney M.
People relate to Boney M. because we have melodies that everyone can sing along to, dance to and have a good time to. It’s just genuine happy music ...
They burst onto the world stage in a kaleidoscope of sequins and outlandish costumes with tracks including ‘Daddy Cool’, ‘Ma Baker’ and ‘Rivers Of Babylon’ earning Boney M. widespread acclaim. The band, a European phenomenon during the 1970s, became synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the disco era and sold over 159 million records worldwide including 18 Platinum and 15 Gold Albums and released 200 Gold and Platinum Singles. Due to popuar demand, Boney M. is making its way to Australia to take the stage at Twin Towns Services Club on Friday October 16. The Weekend Edition Gold Coast had a chat with one of the band’s founding members, Maizie Williams, ahead of the tour to talk discotheques, dreams and that one time they had a prisoner released from jail.
Take us back to the very beginning, can you tell us what was running through your mind when you were first approached in a German restaurant?
To make a long story short, an agent approached my table and explained that there was a producer named Frank Farian who was putting a group together by the name of Boney M. and wondered if I would be interested in being part of it. At first I thought someone was just playing a joke on me but I soon found out that she was quite serious. I had nothing to lose so I met with Frank and he was quite impressed with me and the rest is history! It really was like a fairytale.
Boney M. seemed to experience overnight success following the release of ‘Daddy Cool’. What was that like for a girl from a tiny Caribbean island?
I’m from a Caribbean island originally but I grew up in Britain from when I ten so I was always surrounded by entertainment. I started doing pantomimes and dancing in school and did some modelling so when I actually got the chance to be part of this amazing group it was like a dream come true. Even still, I am so thankful to be part of something that is so amazingly successful. I thank God everyday.
Boney M. became synonymous with disco. For readers who weren’t there to experience it, can you paint the picture of the days of the discotheque?
We were actually quite popular in the discotheque before the first single ‘Daddy Cool’ because we did a showcase with all of the agencies and promoters which took us on the road to tour all of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We were booked out day after day so by the time ‘Daddy Cool’ was released on the market, we had already done the promotion and people already knew the name Boney M. in various places so that was very interesting.
As the records rolled out, the costumes got more flamboyant. What was the most outrageous costume you’ve worn on stage?
Oh my god, I think the most outrageous one was when we weren’t wearing anything! That was for Nightflight to Venus or maybe it was for Love for Sale, I can’t even remember which album it was on now! We are just sitting with chains around us and hardly anything on which was quite outrageous for the time. We’d never done anything like that before and it definitely took some convincing to do that! All jokes aside we did have some outrageous costumes, I really like them all because they all paint a different picture. Each costume relates to a particular song, we had Russian costumes for ‘Rasputin’ and costumes from Egypt or Israel for ‘Rivers of Babylon’.
What’s one of your fondest memories from your time with Boney M.?
There are many fond memories but there is one that has stayed with me in my heart, we recorded a song ‘El Lute’, which was about a true story of a Spanish Robin Hood. He was caught many times and beaten, shot and thrown in prison. When we recorded the song we were of the belief that they had shot him dead but one day we received a phone call from the record company in Spain explaining to us that El Lute would love to meet the group Boney M.! He was alive but he was still in prison. The record company arranged for us to fly over to Spain and meet him, we took him to dinner because he was allowed out of prison everyday with a guard and had a beautiful evening with him. This man was so amazing; we couldn’t stop starring at him! After dinner, he invited us back to his prison, he showed us his cell and met his inmates and it was really nice. When it was time for us to leave, he cried and we cried, it was such an amazing feeling. But anyway, the story goes on, when we left Spain and got back to Germany we spoke to the officials over there to say that he had paid for his crimes and he had proven that he’s a decent, good citizen and he should be set free. Do you know, no sooner said than done, we got a letter from him thanking us that he was a free man. It was a lovely feeling to know that we could do something to help him.
You have obviously achieved monumental success as one of the longest surviving members of Boney M. but also personally with your solo career, what are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of Boney M. there’s no doubt about that, that’s what put me down in history! Boney M. will always be number one.
To this day, Boney M.’s music has fans the world over. What do you believe is the secret to the band’s enduring popularity?
I don’t have a complete answer but our music is the type of music that everyone can relate to no matter what age group, no matter what language you speak or what country your from. People relate to Boney M. because we have melodies that everyone can sing along to, dance to and have a good time to. It’s just genuine happy music. Even countries that don’t speak a word of English know all Boney M. lyrics.
You’ll be performing at Twin Towns Services Club on the Gold Coast in October, can you give us any hints as to what audiences can expect from that show?
They can expect the complete Boney M. experience, all of the hits, of course, as well as a really spectacular energetic performance with lots of costumes. We aim to please!
Do you have a personal favourite song in the Boney M. collection?
I love all Boney M. songs! They all have different meanings and different repetition when it comes to melodies so it’s difficult to say one particular song. ‘Rivers of Babylon’ will always have a wonderful place in my heart.
Do you have any advice for people looking to make a career out of music?
Well it’s a very difficult industry today, not like how it was in the 1970s and 1980s and even middle 1990s. It has changed tremendously. But I would say to people who want to break into the business, you have to stick to it. Work hard, stay focussed and follow your dream. Let no one tell you differently, just go for it.