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Producer/Composer Jacques Morali found Felipe dancing in his Indian costume in a crowd in NY's Greenwich Village. Felipe's special visual attraction brought the idea to mind to put together a group of Village icons from various American social groups. Soon after, Morali saw Victor Willis in Broadway's The Wiz and Victor brought along Alex Briley to play a G.I. With partner Henri Belolo, Morali held auditions for three more performers and VILLAGE PEOPLE was formed.
Selling more than 65 million recordings (1987 Dance Music Report), Village People were an instant phenomenon with hits "San Francisco/In Hollywood," "Macho Man," "YMCA," "In the Navy," "Go West," and more. The disco era was in full bloom. Madonna and Joan Rivers are among artists who have appeared 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-starred with Village People at L.A.'s Palladium.
The group wins many worldwide awards including the American Music Award for Favorite Musical Group 1979, AGVA's Georgie Award, West Germany's Gold Lion Award for music excellence, and Brazil's 1981 Award for Best Act. Village People starred in their own 1980 major feature movie, Can't Stop the Music, co-starring Steve Gutten-berg, Bruce Jenner, Valerie Perrine, Paul Sand, June Havoc, and Tammy Grimes, and directed by Nancy Walker. It remains a popular cult film around the world.
Village People have been 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, and 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 more than 20 countries. The group took a short break from the rigors of touring in 1986, during which time some of the members explored individual careers.
During their second decade together, Village People regroup under the banner of Sixuvus ("six of us") Ltd. Finally their own bosses, and with the help of a new management team, Village People has built an amazing success story of live performances worldwide, new young audiences, television and video appearances, and industry respect.
Of the originating and long-term members, Ray Simpson, David Hodo, Felipe Rose, Jeff Olson, and Alex Briley continued on. In place of the late Glenn Hughes is the group's newest member, Eric Anzalone.
Village People wrote 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. They recorded in 1990 on CBS Records (Australia) the top-ten hit "Living in the Wildlife" and in 1995 sang with the German Soccer Team on the BMG Records (Germany) #1 hit "Far Away in America."
Their hits have been heard on dozens of recent major motion pictures including Down Periscope, Wayne's World II, Adams Family Values, and In and Out. They have performed four times recently on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as well as the Rosie O'Donnell Show, Oprah, and Married with Children.
Village People recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a national tour that included NYC's Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, and L.A.'s Greek Theatre. They have just completed a unique documentary sharing music and culture with Australia's aborigines, entitled Village People Go North Down Under. Both VH-1 and MTV have featured Village People on recent programs.