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.
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.
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
recently return to the stage at a House of Blues performance and is now
preparing for a 2008 world tour.
his wife Karen resides in Newport, South Wales (UK).
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."
He's a pilot.
Copyright 2008. Harlem West
Entertainment. All rights reserved.