Recipients of a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (6529 Hollywood Blvd between Liberace and Betty Grable!), the one-of-a-kind Village People is synonymous with dance music. Their impact on music has earned them the title “Kings of Disco” and they have sold more than 100 million recordings worldwide. These six talented men combine energetic choreography with outrageous fun and lots of bumping and grinding! Their music provides entertainment for all and will have you singing & dancing!
Over the past few years, Village People have performed a full schedule of concerts, festivals, universities, fairs, and casinos throughout the United States as well as Canada, Brazil, France, South Africa, England, Finland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Romania, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Poland and much more. The Guinness World Records book certified their Sun Bowl appearance on December 31, 2008 as the world’s largest YMCA dance with over 40,000 fans “doing the YMCA moves” while the group performed.
They were recently seen on Fox’s Wendy Williams Show, NBC’s Singing Bee with Joey Fatone and in the American Express TV commercial with Ellen Degeneres and Beyonce and the 2012 Wonderful Pistachios spot, too. Online, they recently sang with Susan Boyle, Lance Bass and Wynnona Judd on the 2013 Miracle Whip promo. But it’s their live concerts that keeps them a favorite among music fans worldwide. Here is a short history of how it all started and some highlights of their career:
Producer/Composer Jacques Morali, with partner Henri Belolo, find Felipe dancing in his Native American costume in a crowd in NY’s Greenwich Village. Felipe’s special visual attraction brings the idea to mind to put together a group of Village icons from various American social groups.
Soon after, Morali and Belolo see Victor Willis in Broadway’s The Wiz and Victor brings along Alex Briley to play a G.I. Belolo and Morali hold auditions for 3 more performers and Village People is formed.
Selling more than 100 million recordings, Village People are an instant phenomenon with hits San Francisco/In Hollywood, Macho Man, YMCA, In the Navy, Go West and more. The Disco Era is in full bloom.
Madonna and Joan Rivers are among artists who appear as opening acts for Village People in Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden, Japan’s Budokan, Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion, and Hollywood’s Greek Theatre. Even Michael Jackson co-stars with Village People in LA’s Palladium.
The group wins many worldwide awards including the American Music Award-Favorite Musical Group 1979, AGVA’s Georgie Award, West Germany’s Gold Lion Award for music excellence, Brazil’s 1981 Award for Best Act, and on and on.
Village People star in their own 1980 major feature movie Can’t Stop the Music co-starring Steve Guttenberg, Bruce Jenner, Valerie Perrine, Paul Sand, June Havoc, Tammy Grimes and directed by Nancy Walker. It remains a popular cult film around the world.
Village People are on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine and are featured in Guinness Book of Hits, Time, Playboy, Playgirl, GQ, US, People, Paris Match, World Book Encyclopedia, Dick Clark’s 25 Years of Rock ‘n Roll & hundreds more. Television appearances include The Love Boat, Bob Hope Show, 20/20 (twice), American Bandstand, Solid Gold, Soul Train, Midnight Special and dozens more in over 20 nations.
The group takes a short break from the rigors of touring in 1986, during which time some of the members explore individual careers.
Village People regroup under the banner of Sixuvus (“six of us”) Ltd., following an agreement with Can’t Stop Productions (owner of the Village People name and characters trademark). Finally, their own bosses and with the help of a new management team, Village People builds a new success story of live performances worldwide, new young audiences, television and video appearances, and industry respect.
In 1990 on CBS Records (Australia) they record the top-ten hit Living in the Wildlife and in 1995 sing with the German Soccer Team on BMG Records (Germany) on the number one hit ‘Far Away in America’. Village People write and now perform in their show a new classic entitled ‘Trash Disco’, a tribute to the many artists and dance hits which are now a memorable part of the disco era. Besides Trash Disco their live show also features new material like Take My Breath Away by David Hodo.
Of the originating and long-term members, Ray, David, Felipe, Jeff and Alex continue on. In 1995 Eric Anzalone replaces ailing member Glenn Hughes as the Biker/Leatherman.
Their hits are now being heard on dozens of recent major motion pictures including Down Periscope (the guys actually perform with the cast of Down Periscope as the credits roll during the film), Wayne’s World II, Adams Family Values and In and Out. They perform many times on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as well as the Rosie O’Donnell Show, Oprah, Married with Children, Good Morning America, the Caroline Rhea Show, Dick Clark’s 50th Anniversary of American Bandstand, ABC’s Disco Ball – 30th Anniversary of Disco, and numerous appearances on VH-1 & MTV. Besides dueling it out with The Disco Divas (Thelma Houston, Martha Wash, Freda Payne, Janice Marie, Evelyn “Champagne” King) on the TV game show Family Feud, one of their wildest experiences is filming a unique documentary, titled Village People Go North Down Under, sharing music and culture with Aboriginal communities in Australia's Northern Territory.
They are the half-time entertainment for Australia’s Rugby Grand Finals seen by more people than the Superbowl. Their music is played during the seven inning stretch at dozens of baseball games and they often entertain sports fans with live performances following soccer and hockey games as well. In 1996 they were honored to be a part of the world champion New York Yankees ticker-tape parade in New York City, following the Yankees' World Series win.
In their third decade, Village People continue to tour the world with a high-energy show, performing their hits from the disco era (Go West, ‘San Francisco/In Hollywood, Can’t Stop the Music, In the Navy, Macho Man, Hot Cop, YMCA and more) and original material like Trash Disco, which features over 45 dance favorites in one special performance number.
In March of 2001, original member Glenn Hughes succumbs to lung cancer after a long fight. It is a devastating loss for the group as they lose a good friend and brother. Glenn is buried in his leathers as he had requested. God bless, Glenn...you are missed.
They bring in 2003 as the special guests of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Village People venture into "reality TV" when they perform on MTV's The Osbournes on New Years’ Eve, following the ceremony where Ozzy and Sharon renewed their wedding vows.
Village People tour with Cher on her Living Proof: Farewell Tour, opening for her on numerous dates in the USA, Canada, and Australia, including her final show at the Hollywood Bowl on April 30, 2005.
Other TV appearances include the 2004 Australian Footy Final, NBC’s The Singing Bee, Fox’s Wendy Williams Show (2010), Poland’s Sopot Festival and Italy’s RAI. In 2007, Village People break audience records at Disney World’s EPCOT.
The VP celebrate their 30th anniversary with a full page ad in Billboard and a new website to stay in touch with their many fans and reach out to a new generation of macho men and women. Their fans are actually getting younger as parents and grandparents bring their children to concerts to join the fun and dance and sing along.
The Village People are special guests at the 2008 MLB ALL-Star Game at the original Yankee Stadium (the year it was torn down), and they perform YMCA with the grounds crew.
In September 2008, Village People receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, between Liberace and Betty Grable.
On December 31, 2008, Village People and over 40,000 fans enter the Guinness World Record books with the largest crowd to ever do the YMCA dance. Village People lead the crowd in a joyous and exciting moment of history. Believe it or not, the Village People have performed YMCA live in front of more than 200,000 people, but Guinness wasn't there to certify!
2010 was the 30th Anniversary of the Village People cult musical movie hit Can’t Stop the Music which they celebrate with 3 weeks in Australia on the Can’t Stop the Music tour.
To celebrate their 35th year in 2011, the guys kick off this monumental achievement with a ten-show performance in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Riviera Hotel and Casino titled Raw, Hot & Live! The show lives up to its title causing fans to get their hands on any and all merchandise available at the show that would help them re-live the moment. The press gives rave reviews and the word quickly spreads across the country that the Village People show was raw….hot….and all the way live!
In the summer of 2013, Let’s Go Back to the Dance Floor, Village People’s first worldwide release in 25 years (available on iTunes, Amazon etc.) and written and produced by Harry Casey (KC & the Sunshine Band!) joins their other hits as a super-popular addition to their stage show. It’s also the last collaboration with beloved members David Hodo and Jeff Olson before they retire after decades with the group.
Jim Newman replaces Jeff Olson as the Cowboy and Bill Whitefield takes over the Construction Worker from David Hodo--Felipe, Alex, Ray and Eric remain as the longtime members. You can't stop the music...and the party continues.