About Victor Willis

Visually, Village People was a group of dancers.  But on stage, radio and in the ears of millions of fans, Village People was and still is the voice of Victor Willis, its legendary original lead singer and only straight member.  This international recording sensation has sold over 80 million albums worldwide and still possesses one of the most powerful voices in the recording industry today.  Indeed his voice is one of the most recognizable sounds from the disco era. 

Willis is a prolific hitmaker, singing and writing countless gold and mega-platinum selling songs like “Y.M.C.A,” “In the Navy,” “Macho Man,” “Go West,” “San Francisco,” "In Hollywood (Everybody's A Star) and “Milk Shake,” and “Magic Night,” from the movie “Can’t Stop The Music,” to name a few.  Willis’ other lyrical successes include “I Love America,” "Swiss Kiss," and "Lady Night," by Patrick Juvet.  He wrote for the Ritchie Family as well.  Willis is also an accomplished actor with roots in the Negro Ensemble having appeared in Broadway versions of “The Wiz,” “Hair,” “The River Niger,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” and others.  His Village People character is the Hot Cop and Admiral. 

His persona is the "Cop" and "Naval Officer" (1977-1980 and 1982-1984).  His powerful R&B vocals defined the sound of the Village People and remains one of the most recognizable voices from the disco era.  In addition to being a composer, he also wrote lyrics to all the group's major hits like "Macho Man," "Y.M.C.A.," "In The Navy," "Go West," and many more.   But there's more to Victor Willis than music, he's also an accomplished actor who performed as part of the Negro Ensemble and in numerous award winning original Broadway musicals like "The Wiz," "Hair," The River Niger," and "Two Gentlemen of Verona," to name a few. 

The son of a Baptist preacher, he grew up in the San Francisco bay area.  He developed a knack for singing in his father's church and later perfected his writing skills there too.  In the mid-1970's, he auditioned and was eventually cast in the Broadway version of "The Wiz." It was during one of his performances in The Wiz that disco producers, Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo, discovered the young man with the "big voice."  Morali and Belolo were so impressed they developed a group concept around the voice of Victor Willis.  The group, eventually named "Village People," was formed well after Jacques Morali had already taken Victor into the studio and fully recorded the would-be-group's first album with use of background singers (not Village People members).  The first album contained the hits "San Francisco" and "In Hollywood (Everybody's a Star)."   Under Victor’s leadership, the Village People became one of the most successful groups of the disco era, generating numerous gold and platinum albums, American Music Awards and international awards. 

In 1980 as he prepared to be cast in the mega-disco movie flop, "Can't' Stop The Music," Morali and Belolo felt the time was right for Victor Willis to go solo.  Victor felt the whole idea of a Village People movie was a bad idea from the start and wasn't exactly thrilled about the movie script.  After preparing to sing lead on the movie's sound track, Victor suddenly exited the group over lifestyle differences and how the group was  being perceived.  He instead wrote two songs for the soundtrack, "Milk Shake and "Magic Night."  The movie was a major embarrassment losing millions of dollars which hastened the end of the group. 

Suddenly the Village People were without its trademark sound made possible by Victor's powerful and distinctive vocals and lyrics.  Victor Willis was gone and so were the hits.   in 1982, Jacques Morali sought to recapture the magic and hits made possible by Victor Willis by bringing him back as lead singer and lyricists for the group again in time for the album, "Fox On The Box."  But the group never recovered from the initial exit of Victor Willis.  However, as the founding member and original lead singer, Victor Willis is forever associated with the authentic sound of the Village People, its success, and heyday.  He left the group for good in 1984.  

The star recently return to the stage at a House of Blues performance and is now preparing for a 2008 world tour.

Victor and his wife Karen resides in Newport, South Wales (UK).

Tidbits:  He was married to “Phylicia Ayers-Willis” (1978-1984) better known as Clair Huxtable, from the "Cosby Show (Phylicia Rashad)."  He convinced Jacques Morali to produce an album on his then wife titled, “Josephine Superstar,” for which he wrote the lyrics.  

Tidbits:  He wrote "Milk Shake" and Magic Night" from the mega disco movie flop, "Can't Stop the Music."

Tidbits:  He's a pilot.    

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