One of disco’s most enduring legends, The Village People, have been on the music scene for almost 40 years now. Their hits include songs like “Macho Man”, “In the Navy” and the universal bop known as “Y.M.C.A.”
If you haven't thought about the disco group in a while, we can't blame you. But perhaps you're wondering whether The Village People are even still alive. If so, you've come to the right place.
First things first, are The Village People still alive?
Today, the group only has one of it’s original members, Victor Willis (the Policeman), but he’s fronting a whole new revival with The Village People. In fact, the band has been putting out new music as recently as December 2019, when they released the groups first Christmas single, “Happiest Time of the Year.” The song even hit #20 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, making it the band’s first Top 20 hit in 40 years.
But if Willis is the only original member steering the band into a new decade, what happened to the rest of The Village People: the Native American, the G.I./Sailor, the Leather Daddy, the Construction worker, and the Cowboy, who were all around during the group’s peak in 1979?
Keep reading to find out!
Victor Willis (AKA The Policeman)
We already touched on Victor’s whereabouts today, but back in the day Victor was the first member of the band. He was hired by a French composer/producer named Jacques Morali to sing on an album he'd created. After the album became an international success, Jacques decided to hire a bunch of dancers to back up Victor on live performances. And so, The Village People were born!
Felipe Rose (AKA the Native American)
Probably the character that would fly the least if The Village People had been a band formed in the 2010s instead of the 1970s, Felipe Rose's "Native American" (then called "The Indian") was one of the first recruits picked to backup Victor Willis. Felipe, who was discovered at a New York gay bar called Anvil, claims to have actual Native American ancestry, but we’ve been unable to verify this claim.
Outside of his work with The Village People, Felipe has also had a solo career and his single “Trails of Tears” was nominated for 3 NAMMY awards (Native American Music Awards). He’s also appeared in movies like Rose Can’t Stop the Music (1980), The Best of Village People (1993), and Feathers and Leathers: The Story of the Village People (1999).
Alex Briley (AKA the G.I./Sailor)
Alex was hand-picked by Victor as a backup for his live shows. At first, Alex’s character was an athlete and his performance outfit was just jeans and a t-shirt. However, he soon changed over to the known and beloved G.I./Sailor character. Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Alex represented the different branches of the United States Armed Forces and the people that serve in them.
A rather dark and sad fact about Alex is that his late brother Jonathan is thought to be “The Falling Man,” the figure in the iconic photograph from 9/11 that showed a man falling from the World Trade Center during the attacks.
Glenn Hughes (AKA the Leather Daddy)
Glenn Hughes was working as a toll collector in New York when he decided to answer an ad looking for “macho” singers and dancers. He became one of the disco era’s most iconic and enduring figures, with his huge horseshoe mustache and trademark leather gear. Hughes drew inspiration for his look from a BDSM nightclub that he frequented.
Glenn retired from The Village People to form his own very successful cabaret act in 1996. The Bronx native is unfortunately no longer with us, having contracted lung cancer and passing away in 2001 at the age of 50. He was buried in his leatherman clothes.
David Hodo (AKA the Construction worker)
With a background on Broadway, David was initially quite skeptical of The Village People’s prospects. However, once the group achieved international fame, he came around to the power of the band.
While David was assigned his role as “construction worker” in the group, it was his idea to don the iconic reflector shades. While the sunglasses became an integral part of the costume, for David they were a shield against audiences since he often felt shy while performing songs like "Macho Man".
Randy Jones (AKA the Cowboy)
Randy was the cowboy character of The Village People from 1977 to 1980 and again from 1987 until 1990.
Outside of the band, Randy has done a lot of work to highlight the social injustices faced by the LGBTQ community. In 2004, before gay marriage was legally recognized, he held a marriage ceremony with his boyfriend of 20 years, Will Grega, at a nightclub in New York City.
In 2017 he also released a single called “Hard Times” which reached #42 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs charts.