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Sight in a Gay Bar Led to an Iconic Band

Village People co-founder Henri Belolo is dead at 82
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2019 7:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – A music producer by the name of Henri Belolo is dead at age 82, and his death is making headlines because of the iconic band he helped create in the 1970s—the Village People. The Guardian recounts how a fateful trip to a gay bar with fellow Moroccan producer Jacques Morali provided the inspiration. First, they saw future member Felipe Rose dancing while dressed as a Native American. "We're looking at the Indian, and on my left I saw a cowboy, like the Marlboro cowboy," Belolo recalled in 2004. "Stetson on his head, a mustache, good-looking, looking at the Indian dancing. And Morali turned to me and said, 'Oh God, are you thinking what I’m thinking?'"

The rest is musical history, one that would lead to hits such as "YMCA," "Macho Man," and "In the Navy." Belolo, who was not a member of the group, "leaves an impressive body of work that helped shape the disco genre, and as a record executive, he was par excellence," says Village People lead singer Victor Willis, per Rolling Stone. Belolo himself was not gay, but his friend Morali was, and Belolo saw the group as a way to champion gay rights. "I did not like that American mentality of bigotry and hypocrisy," he once said. "And I didn’t see why these people would be treated like this." (Read more The Village People stories.)

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