The members of the Village People group have expressed their sorrow for the death of Henri Belolo, the pioneer of French music who was one of the founders of the band that helped shape the era of disco music. Belolo, who has died at 82, founded Village People in the late 1970s with Frenchman Jacques Morali, after moving to New York and seeing potential in the gay disco scene.
The group was created specifically to promote and interpret the disc music creations of these two musicians. Like Boney M, Village People was a "custom-designed" group with global ambition because, despite the fact that the composers were French, the songs were all in English. Belolo was heterosexual, but the band, which has sold more than 100 million records since its founding in 1977, became a champion of the rights of the LGBT community, by mixing popular disco songs with openly gay lyrics.
In a statement, the group – still active and that has had different formations over the years – said they were "sad" about the death of Belolo, whom they called a "pioneer of the disco genre" whose "legacy is marked for a work that endures. "
The original band adopted a public image close to the homosexual scene of the 1970s, in which its five members dressed like a policeman, a man in a leather jacket, a Native American, a soldier and a cowboy.
The most popular songs of Village People, "Y.M.C.A", "In the Navy" and "Macho Man" were adopted as hymns by the LGBT community, but also had a lot of commercial success.
The band was on the cover of the magazine "Rolling Stone", the bible of rock, in 1979, at the highest point of "disco mania" worldwide. After founding his own record label, Scorpio Music, in 1973, Belolo introduced hip-hop in France with the American rap group Break Machine in the 1980s.
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