Village People is one of the most iconic music groups in the world. Their music is part of the international songbook and has been featured in numerous motion pictures, on Broadway, and in commercials. Of course, “Y.M.C.A” (along with its namesake dance) is played at almost every party, wedding, bar mitzvah and sporting event in the world. They’ve sold over 100 million records worldwide.
The debut album, released in 1 977 featured the hit singles “San Francisco (You’ve Got Me),” and “In Hollywood (Everybody is a Star). At that time however the group was just Victor Willis with use of session background singers. So, the original Village People was simply Victor Willis. Auditions were later held, and a group of characters were assembled around Victor for a 1 977 television appearance on American Bandstand which became the first or original version of Village People.
Soon Village People became a real group but was revamped to form a second iteration in time for release of the Macho Man album. This second version of Village People soon became an international phenomenon and the second album, Macho Man, soon went platinum ( over one millions albums sold) featuring the album’s namesake platinum single, “Macho Man.
This was followed by the third double platinum album titled “Cruisin” which featured the blockbuster hit “Y.M.C.A.” Next up was the platinum album Go Westfeaturing the gold single “In the Navy.” The group’s sixth album went gold, titled: Live & Sleazy, which featured Victor Willis performing all the prior hits live from the Greek Theatre, while introducing new lead singers for the Sleazy portion of the album as Victor Willis prepared to exit the group.
In November 1979, Willis exited the group during filming of the Can’t Stop the Music movie and motion picture soundtrack. This marked the group’s first album to not be certified gold or platinum by the RIM coinciding with Willis’ exit. Willis wrote the songs “Magic Night” and “Milk Shake.”
The disco era ended, and Village People soon disbanded. Willis returned to the group in 1982 to record the Fox on the Box album, and soon exited again.
A touring version of the group (without Willis) with use of pre-recorded music/tracks and numerous replacement members followed in the late-1 980s. Over the years, various replacement members continued to tour as a track act well into the 2000s.
Willis returned once again as lead singer in 2017 leading up to the group’s 40th anniversary. Village People’s iconic cop and writer of the group’s biggest hits, including “YMCA,” “Macho Man,” “Go West.” and “In the Navy,” is once again at the helm of Village People with live musicians backing the group as he originally intended.
The group returned to the charts in 201 9 with a Christmas Album and in 2020 with “Happiest Time of the Year,’ and “If You Believe,” both written by Willis, which quickly broke into the top 20 of Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart.
The 2020, YMCA was inducted into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. The following year, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The group continues to perform worldwide and is more popular now than ever.