Village People Co-Creator/Producer Henri Belolo Dies at 82

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Courtesy of Scorpio Music
Henri Belolo with Village People.

Henri Belolo, co-creator of Village People, died on Saturday (Aug. 3), as the band's official Facebook page confirmed.

"In loving memory of Henri Belolo (1936-2019)," they wrote. The cause of death is currently unknown. A private funeral was already held in France, but the band is currently working on a public memorial service, to be announced soon. Belolo was 82 years old.

Scorpio Music, the French record label founded by Belolo, issued the following statement today: “It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Henri Belolo, founder of Scorpio Music and pioneer of dance music. He passed away on Saturday, August 3, 2019. We extend our deepest sympathies to Henri’s family...Henri will live on in our hearts and minds forever.”

The French music producer helped shape disco music, penning hits that were featured in several films, Broadway, commercials, and more. Of course, their monster hits "Y.M.C.A.," "Macho Man" and "In The Navy" are also still played at every wedding, party, and bar and bat mitzvah today.

Belolo was born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1936. He moved to Paris when he was in his twenties, where he worked as a DJ/producer after discovering American and African music brought over by the U.S. troops. He finally moved to the states in 1973, where he met fellow Moroccan producer Jacques Morali. 

He and Morali teamed up to produce the Ritchie Family's "Brazil" in 1975, which soon grew to be a hit and led the partnership between the two producers to carry on into the next decade. Together, they shaped the world of disco, hitting up night clubs and eventually forming the six-member group, Village People, in 1978.   

The group was wildly progressive, embracing gay culture with fantasy characters, costumes, and a free-spirited approach to music. The characters included a construction worker, police officer, cowboy, Indian, biker and soldier.  

In 1991, they performed during the New South Wales Rugby Final in Sydney, Australia, which caused a disco resurgence for the band that decade. They also performed at the MTV Movie Awards. 

In the 2000s, they opened for Cher on her Farewell Tour and received a star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame. Just last year, Village People released their first new record in 33 years, A Village People Christmas.

Beloli became a strong ally for his partner Morali, who was gay and passed away from AIDs complications in 1991. 

Billboard has reached out for additional comment.

See the band's tributes below.


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