The group was assembled by Jacques Morali (disco producer) in 1977. Initially the singers were secondary to the sound but proved so popular it allowed Morali to put together a group of camp stereotypes that would have mass appeal. His idea was no different to others before who had capitalised on youth fashions, for example the early Who were a manufactured Mod band. Morali chanced upon Felipe Rose dancing in full Indian costume in Greenwich Village and thought he would be ideal.
He quickly put together a group of costumed singers choosing characters from the people he saw in the Village. The original Village People line up was Victor Willis, (traffic cop), Randy Jones (cowboy), Glenn Hughes (leather biker), David Hodo (construction Worker), Felipe Rose, (Native American), and Alex Briley, (soldier/sailor). Special lyrics which included disguised camp references were set to disco music and it was Phil Hurtt and Peter Whitehead who wrote the songs. Ironically the group had its first hit with "San Francisco (You Got Me)" in England in 1977.
The following year "Macho Man" hit the charts in the US. "Y.M.C.A." and "In the Navy" became worldwide hits.
The Village People’s last two hit singles were "Go West" and "Can't Stop the Music."
At their peak the band were consummate performers giving live performances at all the key venues across the globe. Among the many up and coming acts to open for the group were Madonna and Joan Rivers. VP even shared billing with Michael Jackson in LA's Palladium.
Village People sold more than 65 million records and starred in their own movie “Can’t stop the music” (1980).
By the end of the 70s as Disco ebbed and the novelty camp group lost its mass appeal as their sales dropped. VP tried to re-establish again in the eighties but by then musical tastes had changed so much it took until the upsurge in interest in Disco to see them rise again as superstars on the retro circuit. Village People still record and perform and remain a popular attraction with their records commonly featured on movie scores.
Worth a listen
San Francisco (You Got Me) (1977)
Macho Man (1978)
In the navy (1979)
Go West (1979)
Can't Stop the Music (1980)
In the brownies (1979)
Great Cover version
Pet Shop Boys
Go West (1993)