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Henri Belolo, a Founder of the Village People, Dies at 82


“Brazil,” their first hit, adapted from a Carmen Miranda movie, went to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975; a year later, “The Best Disco in Town” hit No. 17 on the Hot 100 and No. 12 on the soul chart.

The Village People followed soon after. Their debut album, “The Village People” (1977), consisting of four songs performed by Mr. Willis and a corps of backup singers, earned the group a deal with Casablanca Records. The full six-man group was then formed, consisting of Mr. Rose, Mr. Willis and four singers chosen after a casting call.

The ground went on to release the albums “Cruisin’ ” (1978), which featured “Y.M.C.A.,” and “Macho Man,” also in 1978, which included the title song and “Key West.” Following a live album, “Live and Sleazy,” in 1979, they released “Go West” (1979), which included “In the Navy.”

The ownership of the group’s songs came into doubt in recent years, and in 2015 a federal jury ruled, among other things, that Mr. Willis was entitled to 50 percent copyright ownership in the United States of 13 of the group’s songs, including “Y.M.C.A.” Mr. Willis returned to the group in 2017 after a long hiatus.

“Henri and I resolved our creative differences years before his death,” Mr. Willis said in a statement. “I am grateful we did so.”

In addition to his son Jonathan, Mr. Belolo is survived by another son, Anthony; three grandchildren; three brothers, Simon, Georges and Jais; and two sisters, Vivianne and Ginette Belolo. His marriage to Daniele Allard ended in divorce.


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