For the Village People, there are the songs but also the major spectacle

Published on March 26th, 2021

By Jim Dail

Musical movements come and go through time. During the 1970s, the disco era was in full force with countless hits that have been mainstays for those who are nostalgic or just looking to have fun.

Most artists had perhaps one big hit, but not the Village People, who will perform hits such as “YMCA” with KC and the Sunshine Band on May 1 at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio.

For Felipe Rose, the Native American, the fact that the songs are still going strong has to do with the strength of the material, but also the live performances.

“You can have the song, but if the act is not out there performing it, then it does not matter,” Rose said in a recent telephone interview. “This group has gone on for decades, and Alex [Briley] has been with me since 1977 and Ray [Simpson] has been with me since 1979. We have rebooted over the years.”

Over the years, some members have passed on (Glen Hughes) and others have retired (David Hodo and G. Jeff Olson).

“The road is not for everybody,” he said. “But it is magical out on stage. We are very energetic. After these interviews I am running to the gym for two hours. You have to do it and stay in shape and eat right.”

It was 1977 when composer Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo decided to form a band to feature the cultural icons from Greenwich Village. They got the idea after watching Rose performing in his Native American costume. Soon after, it was hit after hit, with iconic songs such as “Macho Man,” “YMCA” and “In the Navy.”

“The music has always been fun,” he said. “We are not singing about death or anarchy. It’s just fun stuff. You don’t have to dig deep for any meaning.”

The success is certain as the band has sold more than 100 million records and constantly tours all over the world. Part of it is clearly nostalgia. After all, the late 70s were a fun time with disco all about getting up and moving, fun songs and good beats.

“It was as simpler time that just doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “Everyone has a formula that works for them and we have sustained it for four decades. There is a time that is coming where it will probably come to an end but it is still going now and it is still fun.”

In fact, while some people dread the years and years on the road, that’s not the case with Rose.

“Going out on the road is the fun part for me,” he said. “At home the phone is always ringing. I want to go out on the road and be like Peter Pan.”

The show itself is truly a spectacle.

“You will see debauchery, laughing, us talking to the audience,” he said. “We are more than just the iconic figures and personalities. It’s really about having a good, upbeat time.”


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