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February 16th, 2024





“Y.M.C.A.” has become one of the biggest anthems of all time. With one of the catchiest choruses to ever be written, this 1978 track is still a go-to when you need to get a crowd amped up.”

– American Songwriter

NEW YORK, N.Y. (February 16, 2024) – Primary Wave Music continues their reign as the leading independent publisher of iconic and legendary music in the world, announcing today their partnership with the groundbreaking group, Village People. Terms of the deal will see the publishing powerhouse partner with Jonathan and Anthony Belolo in connection with the Village People brand, the group’s master recordings, as well as publishing assets. Founded in 1977, Village People went on to become one of the most iconic groups in music selling more than 100 million records around the world. Their music knows no bounds having been featured in films, television, on Broadway, commercials and almost every party, wedding, bar mitzvah, and sporting event across the globe.

Songs included in this exciting new partnership encompass some of Village People’s biggest hits such as their number 1 classic, “Y.M.C.A.” Released in 1978, the song shot to #1 in the UK and soared to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2020, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Since its release, the single has gone on to sell more than 12 million copies worldwide and continues to be a fan favorite to this day. Village People’s second single, “Macho Man,” is also included. Released in 1978, the song received critical acclaim with Entertainment Weekly declaring it a “disco anthem.” Additional songs include their top ten and multiplatinum hit “In The Navy,” as well as “Go West” which Classic Rock History named in the group’s top ten greatest songs. “Go West” would go on to be covered by Pet Shop Boys in 1993 for a performance at an AIDS charity event and hit number one in several countries around the world including topping Billboard’s Dance Music/Club Play singles chart in the U.S.

In a joint statement, Jonathan and Anthony Belolo said, “As we were picking up the mantle following our father’s passing in 2019, we soon realized that – to achieve his dreams of bringing the Village People ideal into the 21st century the right way is a very bold endeavor. Our partnership with the amazing team at Primary Wave now brings us the backup and expertise that will ensure we can rise to the task together. With multiple projects in development, the future looks bright as ever for the Village People!

Lexi Todd, Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs at Primary Wave Music, added “The Village People have brought so much joy to listeners around the world for decades. With disco-inspired music all over the contemporary charts, now is the perfect time to launch our new partnership. We look forward to working alongside Jonathan and Anthony to reinvigorate the Village People brand.”

It began in 1977 when producer Jacques Morali and his partner Henri Belolo, known collectively as Can’t Stop Productions, were recording a new album for their hit group the Ritchie Family, African Queen, and needed background singers. Horace Ott, the arranger/conductor who was working with them, suggested Victor Willis, a singer he was recording who also was performing in the Broadway musical The Wiz. After Willis completed background on the album, Morali approached him about another musical project he and Belolo were planning which turned out to be Village People. “I had a dream that you sang lead vocals on an album I produced, and it went very, very big,” Morali told Willis. “I have four tracks. I can’t pay you much right now but if you agree, I’ll make you a star.” Willis agreed and the rest is history. Those initial four tracks, San Francisco (You’ve Got Me), In Hollywood (Everyone’s a Star), Fire Island, and Village People were recorded by Willis with professional background singers and released as the debut album Village People in 1977. The album quickly climbed to the top of the dance charts and became an international hit. Demand for the “Village People” to appear in concert and on television shows like American Bandstand and Merv Griffin was great. The only problem …“Village People” was Victor Willis! So Morali, Belolo and Willis had to put together an actual group…and quick. Morali and Belolo had already met Felipe Rose who dressed as a Native American. They recruited him. Willis brought in Alex Briley, who he’d previously worked with in a musical. The quickly assembled original lineup appeared with Victor on American Bandstand was Mark Mussler (Construction Worker), David Forrest (Cowboy), Lee Mouton (Leatherman) and Peter Whitehead (nondescript). After that appearance, an ad was placed in a trade paper for permanent members which read: Macho Types Wanted for World-Famous Disco Group — Must Dance and Have a Moustache. Randy Jones, Glenn Hughes, and David Hodo answered the call.

Casablanca Records and Filmworks, the group’s label, got behind their second album Macho Man with full promotion and marketing. Village People became an international phenomenon and quickly followed with their third album, the double-platinum Cruisin (which featured the blockbuster Y.M.C.A.). They embarked on a worldwide tour in 1979 to coincide with the release of their fourth album, Go West. The group has received many honors and awards, including the American Music Award for Favorite Musical Group, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone.

After Willis exited in late 1979, several singers took over as lead singer of the group, including Ray Stephens, Miles Jaye, and Raymond Simpson (who served the longest). The group went on to star in the 1980 movie Can’t Stop the Music. Over the years, various renditions of the group have consistently toured the world along with original members Felipe Rose and Alex Briley including Ray Simpson, Jeff Olson (cowboy), Eric Anzalone (Biker), Mark Lee (Construction Worker), Bill Whitefield (Construction Worker), and James Newman (Cowboy), and in 2017 Willis officially returned to Village People. With hits like San Francisco/In Hollywood, Macho Man, Y.M.C.A., In the Navy and Go West, the group has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and continues to break records.

The current Village People lineup is comprised of: Victor Willis (Cop/Admiral), Angel Morales (Native American), James Kwong (Construction Worker), Chad Freeman (Cowboy), James Lee (G.I.), and James J.J. Lippold (Leatherman).

Tanya Blazhko introduced the parties.