As anyone who knows me knows, I am very political when it comes to music. I am all for free speech because it lays the cards on the table. You know who you are dealing with. Remember the Dixie Chicks? They said what they wanted to say and people stopped buying their music. So, there is a price to be paid for free speech. Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness and I stopped listening to his music. Whitney went off the deep end and that ended my respect. Mariah, well… when she left Tommy, she started making music that I didn’t like. And lastly, Boy George. I was a die hard fan of his and went a concert in the late 90s and he said during the concert, “Some people are here on an 80’s pilgrimage. Well, the 80’s are over! O-V-A-H over!” That ended my fandom. If you are ungrateful of the way you are even where you are, then you don’t deserve to be there.
Flash forward to New Year’s Eve.
I had seen an ad for Village People coming to a casino in South Florida, and thought, “That might be a good NYE.” I have loved their music for years, and if you have a keen eye, you can tell which one of them I liked the most. The original leatherman has passed away, his name was Glenn. I had dreams of carrying on his legacy. But that’s for my Japanese tour. Back to night.
The pictures flashing on the screen in the casino showed the original “Indian”/Native American, so when the first 5 guys came out and he wasn’t there, I was a bit sad. Then the lead singer came out. The motorcycle cop. He was a bit pudgy, which can be expected due to age. So at this stage, I was quite sad that only one original member was there. The replacement leatherman was a good replacement, but had no rhythm, so I got a kick out of that. Here’s how the evening went:
I was expecting choreographed routines. I was expecting flags during “In The Navy”. I had to lower my expectations because I knew I was not going to enjoy the show if I didn’t. So, I just started enjoying the songs. I was actually surprised that the lead singer, Victor Willis, had the chops for the songs. He actually sounded like the original recordings. Here’s where it got weird. He was kind of “out of it”. Almost like he was sleepy. Walked back and forth across the stage with his head down and before every song, he proclaimed that he “wrote and recorded the original version of that” “on almost every song” he was the vocals and wrote that… I said to myself, “ok, we get it. You wrote the songs.” As a songwriter myself, I understand the need for credit where credit is due, but he was going a bit overboard. He also seemed like he didn’t really have a plan, as he kept asking the guys, “what should we do”?
His performance was akin that that of someone’s grandfather doing a karaoke routine. No matter what follows in this article, you and I have to respect the fact that he did write and record tunes that have withstood the test of time.
Now on to the next day.
I was chatting with someone and telling them the weird story and wanted to look up Village People on the web, so I could put my name in the hat if they needed a replacement for the leatherguy. The promo pictures had shown someone different for him, so I figured that they might need another one at some point.
I immediately ran across an article that changed my whole perception of the evening.
It appears that when disco was dying, Victor left the group to try to go in another direction. Ok, your loss. In 2012, supposedly, he sued to get royalties for the music. You wrote it, you should get royalties. I understand. Now here’s where it gets nasty. It seems like he decided to come back to the group this year. I am sure they welcomed him with open arms. (queue up the ominous music) The story states that he came back and “took over” the group. Uh oh. They have been performing without him for 38 years. So, I am sure when he shows up, he tries to throw his weight around, and the current members start retaliating and leaving. He eventually got rid of everyone. He replaced them all. That explains no choreographed routines. That explains why he was the only original one on stage. That explains the constant “I wrote this”.
If I had known of this, I would have not gone to this show. I am torn between what’s right from both sides. I am sure the bitter lawsuit brought this on, and I am sure the 38 years of keeping the name alive was blood sweat and tears, so I can see this from both sides. I really hope they work this out. I am glad I went to see a bit of our history, but am sad that now every song reminds me of this horrible golden girls drama. I won’t be listening to any of their music because of this. Another one bites the dust.