Village People

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About Village People

Icons of the disco era and LGBTQ rights movement, Village People are best known for their massive 1978 hit “Y.M.C.A.,” which reached No. 2 at the time and has been a fixture in popular culture ever since. • After moving to New York City, French music producers Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo created Village People around singer Victor Willis and a studio band. When the group’s self-titled 1977 debut led to a demand for in-person appearances, Morali and Willis recruited dancers to back Willis in distinctive costumes onstage. • The definitive lineup featured Willis dressed as a cop or athlete, with Felipe Rose (the Native American), Alex Briley (the sailor), David Hodo (the construction worker), Randy Jones (the cowboy), and Glenn Hughes (the leatherman). • Village People first hit the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1978 with “Macho Man,” the title track from their second album. Both the song and album narrowly missed the Top 20. • Their third album, 1978’s Cruisin’, was a smash, reaching No. 3 on the charts and launching “Y.M.C.A.” and the No. 3 hit “In the Navy.” • Willis left Village People in 1979 after their fourth album, Go West, which reached No. 8 on the charts. He was replaced by Ray Simpson, who fronted the group in the 1980 musical film comedy Can’t Stop the Music. They also appeared that year in an episode of the TV series The Love Boat. • Willis rejoined briefly for Village People’s 1982 album Fox on the Box (released in the US in 1983 as In the Streets) before departing again. Several singers subsequently rotated through the lead spot, including Simpson, Miles Jaye, and Ray Stephens. • Village People released just one more studio album, 1985’s Sex Over the Phone, which didn’t chart. • The group has continued to be a draw in concert, and after protracted legal wrangling over the Village People name and songwriting credits, Willis returned to the group again in 2017.

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