You’ve probably hummed the catchy choruses to “YMCA” and “Macho Man” a few times in your life. But do you know who the legendary band is that created these smash hits? These legendary songs were really written by the American disco group Village People. Other songs of theirs include “In the Navy,” “San Francisco,” and “Can’t Stop the Music.” The Village People have been active on the music scene for more than 40 years. Known for their theatrical outfits and upbeat songs their line-up has undergone a number of changes during this time.
While the renowned group has faded from the spotlight they have recently made headlines. Victor Willis, the only original member remaining in the group, objected to their popular song “Macho Man” being played in the background of President Donald Trump’s rallies. Since 2018, “Macho Man” has been played frequently at POTUS events. When it was first released in 1978, the song quickly rose to fame as the LGBT community’s anthem.
Aside from that, the band has recently released new songs.
The Village People’s first Christmas single, “Happiest Time of the Year,” reached number 20 on the Billboard charts. It was the group’s first Top 20 hit in forty years.
As previously stated, Victor Willis is the only original member still with the group. He joined The Village People as its first member after being chosen to perform on an album produced by French composer and producer Jacques Morali. In the band, Willis was also referred to as The Policeman
Jeffrey James Lippold, James Kwong, Chad Freeman, and James Lee made up the rest of The Village People’s original lineup. But as time went on, the lineup continued to change as new musicians joined and finally left the group. There have been many members of the band over the years, including Mark Mussler, Lee Mouton, Peter Whitehead, Dave Forrest, Miles Jaye, Ray Stephens, Glenn Hughes, Mark Lee, Randy Jones, G. Jeff Olson, Felipe Rose, Alex Briley, David Hodo, Ray Simpson, Jim Newman, Eric Anzalone, Bill Whitefield, Sonny Earl, and Angel Morales.
The band was quite active in the 1990s, but by the year 2000, they had stopped. However, they continued to perform all over the world and even issued a few singles under the moniker Amazing Veepers. Under this name, they released “Gunbalanya” in 2000 and “Loveship 2001” in 2001.
There were many ups and downs for The Village People.
There was Willis’s arrest on drug-related charges, lineup adjustments, and disputes over royalties and copyrights. The Chicago Tribune reported that Willis won his protracted federal lawsuit in 2017. He eventually received his claim to the term The Village People. In addition, he also was awarded a portion of the group’s valuable songwriting copyrights. The next year, Willis returned to the band as its leader along with a fresh set of backup vocalists.
Felipe Rose, the second Native American of the Village People, decided to pursue a solo career. He recorded the track “Going Back to My Roots,” a rendition of the 1977 dance classic by the Odyssey band. The song even won the Best Dance Record Award 2018 at the Native American Music Awards. In 1978, the band was joined by Randy Jones, a rancher, David Hodo, a construction worker, and Glenn Hughes, a leatherman. Bill Whitefield joined the team in October 2013 as the Construction Worker. He had filled in for Hodo over the years before he retired.
Before the ensemble made their appearance at the Streamys Awards, GI/Sailor Sonny Earl and Leatherman Josh Cartier were swapped out for JJ Lippold and James Lee, respectively. The Village People then released “A Village People Christmas,” their first studio album in 33 years. Henri Belolo, who co-founded The Village People, sadly passed away in August 2019 at the age of 82.
In November 2019, the band re-released its holiday album under the title “Magical Christmas,” which featured two extra songs. The next date of note was Trump’s rally in February 2020. This featured the background music from their song “Macho Man.”
NBC News stated that despite receiving several requests from fans pleading with the band to forbid the president from using the songs, the band still let Trump play them at events.
The group stated in a public Facebook post they had received several demands requesting that they stop or forbid President Donald Trump from using their songs, particularly ‘YMCA’ and ‘Macho Man.’ The President’s usage of their music was completely legal, however, because it was not being used to promote anything in particular.
Then, in June 2020, amid escalating protests after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Willis, the only original member left in the group, posted on Facebook in opposition to the usage of his song. He requested Trump to stop using any of my music at his rallies, especially ‘YMCA’ and ‘Macho Man’ he had said. He claimed to be at a point now where he could no longer ignore it.