The Village People were a Disco group formed by French composer Jacques Morali around lead singer Victor Willis’ vocal talents. After working with Willis, Morali recruited other members to appear on stage and as background vocalists. Based on the gay culture in New York’s Greenwich Village, the group found a name along with cultural stereotypes for the group’s outfits on stage: The Policeman (Willis), The Cowboy, the Construction Worker, the Biker, the G.I. and The Indian.

Macho Man” was the group’s first single, and it hit the top 30 in 1978, but later hit number one on the dance charts. It has been used in TV and Films on many occasions since. The song’s double meaning was obvious to some and not so much to others (such as this author, who was eleven when the song was released). The group’s follow-up single “Y.M.C.A.” was a top 5 hit and has since become a wedding and party favorite. The group also had other successful singles including “In the Navy” (an ironic recruiting tool) and “Go West” (later covered by the Pet Shop Boys). They remain as one of the signature groups of the Disco era, and their “out” personas were certainly ground-breaking and influential to a number of constituencies.

Willis left the group during the recording of Can’t Stop the Music, an ill-fated musical film from 1980 often included on the lists of worst films ever. By the early 1980s, Disco was out of fashion and so were the Village People. But, they have since toured on the nostalgia circuit playing their disco hits to adoring audiences.

Watch the “Macho Man” video (embedding disabled)