|Origin||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Years active||1977–1985, 1987–present|
|Labels||Casablanca, Black Scorpio, RCA, Polygram|
Village People is an American disco group well known for their on-stage costumes depicting American masculine cultural stereotypes as well as their catchy tunes and suggestive lyrics. Originally created by Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo to target disco's gay audience by featuring popular gay fantasy personae, the band quickly became popular and moved into the mainstream. The group scored a number of disco and dance hits, including "Macho Man", "Go West", the classic club medley of "San Francisco (You've Got Me) / In Hollywood", "In the Navy", and their greatest hit, "Y.M.C.A.".
- 1 History
- 2 In popular culture
- 3 Discography
- 4 Lineup
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The group was the creation of Jacques Morali, a French musical composer. He had written a few dance tunes when he was given a demo tape recorded by singer/actor Victor Willis. Morali approached Willis and told him, "I had a dream that you sang lead on my album and it went very, very big". Willis agreed to sing on the eponymous debut album, Village People.
It became a hit, and demand for live appearances soon followed. Under the collaboration Can't Stop Productions, Morali and his business partner Henri Belolo hastily built a group of dancers around Willis to perform in clubs and on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. The band's name refers to New York City's Greenwich Village, at the time known for its large gay population. Morali and Belolo created a group of stereotypes based on the fantasy attire often worn by gay men of Greenwich Village when socializing. As the Village People's popularity grew, Morali, Belolo, and Willis saw the need for a permanent "group". They took out an ad in a music trade magazine which read: "Macho Types Wanted: Must Dance And Have A Moustache."
Morali met the first recruit, Felipe Rose (who dressed as a Native American), on the streets of Greenwich Village. Rose was a bartender who wore jingle bells on his boots, and was invited to take part in the sessions for the first album. Alex Briley (who started portraying an athlete but eventually took on the soldier persona) was hand-picked by Willis to be in the group. The others were Mark Mussler (construction worker), Dave Forrest (cowboy), Glenn Hughes (leatherman), and Peter Whitehead (one of the group's early songwriters), who appeared on American Bandstand and in the video for the group's first hit, "San Francisco (You Got Me)". Later replacements were David Hodo (construction worker), Randy Jones (cowboy).
Songwriters Phil Hurtt and Peter Whitehead were brought in to write lyrics for the first group album. Victor Willis took over writing duties for the group's biggest albums (Macho Man, Cruisin' and Go West), scoring their biggest hits, including "Y.M.C.A.", "Macho Man", "Go West", and "In the Navy". He also wrote for other Can't Stop Productions acts, such as The Ritchie Family and Patrick Juvet. Gypsy Lane (Village People band), and their conductor Horace Ott provided much of the musical arrangements for Morali, who did not play any instruments.
The 1978 single "Macho Man" brought them mainstream attention, and their follow-up single "Y.M.C.A." became one of the most popular hits of the 1970s.
In 1979, the United States Navy considered using "In the Navy" in a television and radio recruiting campaign. Belolo offered them permission if the Navy would help film a music video for it. The Navy provided them access to the San Diego Navy base, where the USS Reasoner (FF-1063), several aircraft, and the crew of the ship would be used. This song was also performed on the TV series The Love Boat, and in the 1995 Navy comedy movie Down Periscope.
The group's fame peaked in 1979, when they made several appearances on The Merv Griffin Show and traveled with Bob Hope to entertain U.S. troops. They were also featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, Vol. 289, April 19, 1979. Willis left the group at the end of an international tour in 1979, and a decline in popularity followed.
Ray Simpson, the brother of Valerie Simpson (of Ashford & Simpson), replaced Willis for the group's highly anticipated 1980 feature film Can't Stop the Music. The film was directed by Nancy Walker, written by Allan Carr and Bronte Woodard, music and lyrics by Jacques Morali (except Willis penned the lyrics to "Milkshake" and "Magic Night") and starring Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine, Jean-Claude Billmaer, and then-Bruce Jenner.[a] By the time it was released, however, disco's popularity had waned, and at the March 1981 Golden Raspberry Awards, the movie was named Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay, and was nominated in almost all the other categories. Although the title song became a club play chart success and moderate radio hit, it was nominated for Worst Original Song "Razzy" and did not live up to sales expectations, never obtaining gold status as a single or album. The soundtrack also featured the talents of David London, who under his real name Dennis "Fergie" Frederiksen became the future lead singer of Toto and one of the main contributors to Village People's next album. The movie itself has since become a cult favorite.
The group were among the weekly guest stars on the November 22, 1980, episode of Love Boat (season four, episode seven: "Secretary to the Stars/Julie's Decision/The Horse Lover/Gopher and Isaac Buy a Horse"). At the end of 1980, cowboy Randy Jones left the group and was replaced by Jeff Olson.
In 1981, with new wave music becoming more popular than disco, Village People replaced its on-stage costumes with a new look inspired by the New Romantic movement, and released the album Renaissance. It only attracted minor – mostly negative – attention and produced no hits.
Victor Willis returned to the group briefly in late 1981 for the album Fox on the Box, which was released in 1982 in Europe and Japan, and in 1983 in the United States under the title In the Street. Ray Simpson left the group in 1983 and was replaced by Miles Jaye. Jaye contributed an extra track to In the Street and performed numerous live shows and television appearances. Mark Lee replaced David Hodo in 1982.
Their last album containing new material, the 1985 dance/Hi-NRG release Sex Over the Phone, was not a huge commercial success, but it fared better in sales and club play than Renaissance. The title track, when released as a single, was banned by the BBC because of its subject matter: credit-card phone sex. The album featured yet another new lead singer, Ray Stephens (of The Great Space Coaster fame). Py Douglas came in to sub for Stephens for some of the group's live appearances in 1985.
In 1985 the group took a hiatus, but reunited in 1987 with the line-up of Randy Jones, David Hodo, Felipe Rose, Glenn Hughes, Alex Briley, and Ray Simpson. Since 1988, the group has managed itself under the name Sixuvus Ltd.
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- September 15, 1991: Village People perform in front of 41,815 in Sydney, Australia, as part of the pre-game entertainment for the New South Wales Rugby League Grand Final held at the Sydney Football Stadium, singing their hit "Y.M.C.A".
- November 15, 1991: Village People founder Jacques Morali dies from complications of AIDS in Paris, France.
- July 13, 1993: Village People perform a medley of self-parody songs at the MTV Movie Awards – "In the Movies" ("In the Navy"), "Psycho B**ch" ("Macho Man"), and "My MTV" ("Y.M.C.A.").
- October 24, 1993: The group makes a guest appearance on the hit show Married... with Children in the episode "Take My Wife, Please".
- 1994: Village People join the German national football team to sing its official World Cup '94 theme Far Away in America.
- 1994: Cowboy Randy Jones sings Greg Brady's part on a punk cover of The Brady Bunch classic Time to Change.
- 1995: Eric Anzalone replaces Glenn Hughes as the Leatherman/Biker.
- 1996: Village People appears with Kelsey Grammer, Rob Schneider, and other cast members during the end-credits sequence of the film Down Periscope.
- 2000: The group releases new material under the name Amazing Veepers.
- 2001: Felipe Rose appears as himself on the game show To Tell the Truth.
- March 4, 2001: original member Glenn Hughes (Leatherman) dies from lung cancer in New York City.
- 2004: Village People perform as the opening act for Cher on her Farewell Tour until it ends in April 2005. It was a highly successful tour for both artists.
- May 7, 2004: Original Cowboy Randy Jones marries Will Grega, his boyfriend of 20 years.
- mid-2004: Village People perform at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.
- September 4, 2006: Village People perform on Jerry Lewis's MDA Telethon.
- August 31, 2007: Victor Willis gives his first live concert in 28 years in Las Vegas.
- October 23, 2007: Village People perform on the NBC game show The Singing Bee.
- November 17, 2007: Victor Willis weds long-time love, Karen, a lawyer and executive.
- July 15, 2008: At the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at the first Yankee Stadium, Village People perform "Y.M.C.A." with the Yankees grounds crew during the 7th inning stretch.
- September 12, 2008: Village People receive star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- September 3, 2010: Village People perform at the American Music Festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
- May 8, 2012: Victor Willis wins a landmark ruling in the first case heard regarding the Copyright Act of 1976 which allows recording artists and writers to reclaim their master recordings and publishing rights initially granted to record companies and publishers after 35 years. Willis recaptured copyrights include "Y.M.C.A.", "Go West", "Magic Night", "Milkshake", and "In the Navy", to name a few.
- February 20, 2013: Victor Willis and David Hodo appear on the TV One series Unsung in a two-hour special retrospective on the disco era.
- August 1, 2013: Village People released new song "Let's Go Back to the Dance Floor" written by Harry W. Casey of K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Jim Newman replaces Jeff Olson as the Cowboy.
- September 13, 2013: Victor Willis begins to recapture his 33% share of songs he co-wrote.
- October 2013: Bill Whitefield replaces David Hodo as the Construction Worker.
- New Year's Eve 2014 : Village People bring in the new year by performing at Mobile's Moonpie Drop.
- March 4, 2015: Victor Willis reclaims ownership of Y.M.C.A. and other songs written with Jacques Morali and the removal of Henri Belolo, previously credited as a third writer.
- August 2015: Victor Willis releases Solo Man, a solo album he recorded in 1979 featuring the Village People band.
- December 16, 2015: Village People perform "Y.M.C.A." during halftime of the Chicago Bulls game as part of "70's Night."
- June 28, 2016: Victor Willis appears as himself on the game show "To Tell The Truth" and performs "Y.M.C.A."
In popular culture
Due to their easily recognizable characters, the group have frequently been imitated or parodied in movies, television series, video games and music. Numerous covers and homages of their songs have been recorded. The stereotypical masculine characters, particularly the leather-clad biker character with a horseshoe mustache, have also become a widespread pop culture icons associated with male gay culture and Y.M.C.A. has become something of an anthem of the LGBT community. Examples of homages and parody include an episode of the 1990s CGI show ReBoot, a scene in the 1993 movie Wayne's World 2, a 1993 episode of Married... with Children, the 1997 video for U2's single "Discotheque", a 2000 episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun, and the 2013 movie Despicable Me 2.
The 2013 video game Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, in which the player solves puzzles by summoning arbitrary objects, features a set of characters resembling the group that can be called upon by entering the word "Band."
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications
|Live and Sleazy||
|Can't Stop the Music||
|Fox on the Box/In the Street||
|Sex Over the Phone||
|"—" Denotes single was not released or failed to chart in that territory.|
Compilations and other albums
- Live: Seoul Song Festival (1984)
- Greatest Hits (1988)
- Greatest Hits '89 Remixes (1989)
- The Best of Village People (1994)
- The Very Best Of (1998)
- 20th Century Masters, The Millennium Collection ... The Best of Village People (2001)
- Universal Music Icon Series: Village People (2014)
|1977||"San Francisco"||102||15||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||9||45||Village People|
|"In Hollywood (Everybody is a Star)"||—||—||—||—||—||—||27||—||—||—||—|
|1978||"I Am What I Am"||—||—||—||—||32||—||—||—||—||—||—||Macho Man|
|1979||"In the Navy"||3||7||1||1||3||2||1||7||2||3||2||Go West|
|"Ready for the 80's"||52||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Live and Sleazy|
|1980||"Can't Stop the Music"||—||1||7||—||10||18||—||2||—||15||11||Can't Stop the Music|
|1981||"Do You Wanna Spend the Night"||—||48||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Renaissance|
|"5 O'Clock in the Morning"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1985||"Sex Over the Phone"||—||—||—||—||40||—||—||—||—||—||59||Sex Over the Phone|
|"New York City"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1989||"Livin' in the Wildlife"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Single Release Only|
|1993||"Y.M.C.A. '93 Remix"||—||—||—||—||96||12||—||46||—||—||12||The Best of Village People|
|1994||"In the Navy '94 Remix"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||42||—||—||36|
|"Far Away in America"||—||—||—||—||44||—||—||—||—||—||—||Single Release Only|
|2013||"Let's Go Back to the Dance Floor"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Single Release Only|
|"—" Denotes single was not released or failed to chart in that territory.|
Songs which reached the Billboard Club Play Singles chart
- "San Francisco"/"In Hollywood (Everybody is a Star)"/"Fire Island" (1977) #1
- "Macho Man"/"Key West"/"I Am What I Am" (1978) #4
- "Y.M.C.A."/"Hot Cop" (1978) #2
- "In the Navy"/"Manhattan Woman"/"Go West" (1979) #14
- "Ready for the 80's"/"Sleazy" (1980) #26
- "Can't Stop the Music" (1980) #30
Original seven members
- Victor Willis (Cop)
- Felipe Rose (Indian)
- Alex Briley (GI)
- Glenn Hughes (Leather man)
- Mark Mussler (Construction worker)
- David Forrest (Cowboy)
- Peter Whitehead (nondescript)
- Peter Whitehead, who co-wrote the songs on the group's first record, was an original member of the group in 1977.
- Py Douglas briefly replaced Ray Stephens in some television appearances during the group's 1985 European tour.
- Alec Timerman stood in for Alex Briley on occasion between 2001 and 2003.
- Richard Montoya also replaced Hodo on some 2008 dates.
- Angel Morales filled in for Felipé Rose, from 2008 through 2009.
- Ray Rodriguez stand-in for Felipé Rose in 2011–2013.
- Stephen Hewitt stood in for Felipé Rose for 12 dates of the North American leg of the 2013 tour.
- A.J. Perrelli stand-in for Jeff Olson in 2013. Perrelli died on October 16, 2013 caused by head injury.
- Pacho Andrews stand-in for Felipé Rose during 2013.
- List of artists who reached number one in Ireland
- List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- "Spin Magazine Online: Y.M.C.A. (An Oral History) ''". Spin.com. May 27, 2008. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Village People, Rolling Stone Magazine Vol. 289, April 19, 1979
- Review: Gay Sex in the 70s: , 2000
- Village People Official Tour Program, 1979, Can't Stop Productions
- Straight, No Chaser by Victor Willis, 1990
- Vulliamy, Ed (November 12, 2006). "Everyday people". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- Buzz Bissinger (June 1, 2015). "Introducing Caitlyn Jenner". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
- IMBD http://www.imdb.com/event/ev0000558/1981
- Juke Magazine February 13, 1985.
- Obituary, Glen Hughes, The Guardian, 30 March 2001
- Village People's Hughes Dead Rolling Stone; March 13, 2001
- Rashbaum, Alyssa (May 11, 2004). "Village People's Cowboy Ropes Himself A Husband – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Rohter, Larry (May 8, 2012). "Village People Singer Wins a Legal Battle in Fight to Reclaim Song Rights". The New York Times.
- "Disco greats team up for TV documentary – MSN TV News". Tv.msn.com. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Rohter, Larry (September 10, 2013). "A Copyright Victory, 35 Years Later". The New York Times.
- Eriq Gardner (March 5, 2015). "Jury Decides Village People 'Y.M.C.A.' Songwriter Has 50 Percent Song Share". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "U2 – Discotheque (Official Video)". YouTube. September 6, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
- ""That '70s Show" We Will Rock You (TV Episode 2006)". IMDb.
- "Village People in US charts". allmusic.com. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
- "Austrian Charts:Village People (albums)". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "RPM: Village People (albums)". RPM Magazine. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "Charts.de:Village People Albums" (in German). Charts.de. Media Control. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "GfK Dtch Charts:Village People (albums)". GfK Dutch Charts Hung Medien. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "New Zealand Charts: Albums – Village People". charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
- "Village People in Norwegian charts". norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "Village People in Swedish charts". swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "UK Official Charts Company Village People". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
- "Certified Awards Search Archived 2012-10-01 at WebCite". Music Canada. Retrieved on January 15, 2012. Note: User needs to enter "Village People" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
- "riaa.com Certifications". Recording Industry Association of America.
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Village People)" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "Certified Awards Search Archived 2010-01-17 at WebCite". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on September 6, 2014. Note: User needs to enter "Village People" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
- "US Charts". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- Hung, Steffen. "Belgian Charts". Belgium Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "Canadian Charts". RPM magazine. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- "German Charts" (in German). Charts.de Media Control. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "Irish Charts". Irish Charts. Archived from the original on June 3, 2009. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "Dutch Chart". Dutch Top 100. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "New Zealand Charts: Song – Village People". charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
- "Norwegian Chart". Norwegian-Charts. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "Swedish Charts". swedishcharts.com Media Control. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- "The Village People awards". Allmusic. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- "Village People Sub And Astoria Native, Perrelli, Celebrated Life". Queens Gazette. October 23, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
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