The Village People frontman has returned but the other members don’t accept it
The original frontman and co-founder of the Village People has returned to the group, but the other members aren’t happy.
Victor Willis, who player the cop in the original lineup, returned after a 38-year hiatus.
The other band members have said that they are annoyed that Willis has returned after nearly four decades, and that he is replacing all of them.
Felipe Rose, who played the Native American in the original lineup of the band, said: “This is corporate hijacking at the highest level.
“He’s taking on 40 years of a well-oiled brand and 40 years of a fan base. The outrage is, is he is replacing all of us.”
Rose said that fans are “furious” and “rabid” at the decision to replace the other members.
He joined the band in 1977 when it made its debut.
The official Village People Facebook page shared a post saying that upcoming performances in Australia in 20 will not feature the most recent lineup.
The post was shared by Rose, along with Alex Briley, the original soldier, Ray Simpson, the cop who took over from Willis in 1979, Eric Anzalone, the leather man since 1995, Jim Newman, who has played the cowboy since 2013 and Bill Whitefield who joined as the construction worker in 2013.
The group as listed above performed in Australia most recently in May.
Willis responded to say that Rose and the other band-members are “imposters”, “ex-Village People” and “karaoke faces”, and his official Facebook page has attacked the other members.
The co-founder won a legal battle in 2012 to reclaim some of the song rights.
The Facebook page, according to Willis’ publicist, is “managed by several PR reps/personal assistants”, and hit out at the band, which is due to perform in August in the UK.
Willis had left the group in 1979 with the hope of going solo.
He was awarded between 33 and 50 percent of the royalties from twenty Village People songs.
But he claims he tried to get on with the other band members, and had offered for Rose to join the new lineup.
“Despite the fact they had misled the public for many years into believing that they are the singers of the Village People hits when in fact the real singer has always been me, I offered an opportunity for several of the group members to join (including Felipe Rose) in my return at the helm of Village People. They declined my offer,” Willis wrote in an email.
“They have pulled the wool over the public’s eye long enough,” Willis continued.
“I have recruited new members to replace them … I wish the former members the best.”
The date at which Willis takes back control of the group is also under dispute.
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Rose claims that they have until 1 November to continue performing, but Willis’ company Sixuvus said they lost the right to perform under the name on 1 June.
New members of the group will be announced next week, according to Willis.
Willis back in 2014 refused to perform at the Sochi Winter Olympics, in protest against a discriminatory anti-LGBT law.
The law, passed in 2013 and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, bans the “promotion of non-traditional sexual orientations” to minors.
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