ENTERTAINMENT

So The Village People's Australian Tour Is Kinda Complicated

What the YMC-hey?

15/08/2017 3:31 PM AEST | Updated 15/08/2017 5:47 PM AEST
Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic / Facebook

Ok, in late July it was announced that Sister Sledge, KC and the Sunshine Band and the Village People would be coming to Australia in December to perform a handful of outdoor performances.

With the announcement came the big news that the original cop, Victor Willis, would be singing with the Village People for the first time in 25 years. They'd also be performing at Margaret Court arena, which is just too perfect for the band that brought us some of the greatest LGBTQ anthems. Fans of disco were all "More like YMC-Yay!".

Then, a few weeks later, this happened on the official Village People Facebook page.

"WE LOVE OUR AUSTRALIAN FANS," the verified page's post read, "so we want all of you to know that we are not the ones performing at the shows currently being advertised for Australia in December 2017".

This set off a chain of posts on Willis' own official page, where he posted several responses.

"The original Village People concept is any five characters behind the powerful voice of Victor Willis," one post read. "That's the real Village People. We have chosen to return to that concept in efforts to breathe new life into the group with Victor once again at the helm. Therefore, the ex-members must now move on with their lives the way Victor was forced to do years ago. They had a great run."

Confusing as it may seem, lets try and straighten this out.

What wasn't made so clear when the tour was announced was that, while Victor Willis was returning to lead the Village People in these concerts, he was also "rebooting" the group, aka casting an entirely new crew. Willis left the Village People at the height of their popularity, right before they made their movie 'Can't Stop the Music' in 1980.

Bettmann via Getty Images
From the movie 'Can't Stop the Music', the second line-up of the Village People which did not include Victor Willis.

During his time with the group, Willis co-wrote over 30 of the Village People's songs including the iconic 'YMCA', 'In the Navy' and 'Macho Man'. After leaving the group, Willis was involved in a long legal battle over the copyrights to many of the songs he co-wrote.

Ok this is where it gets messy. In 1978 Copyright Act amendments in the U.S. went into effect, basically meaning if artists created work at the early stages of their career and signed over the rights while they weren't in a powerful bargaining position -- they could terminate those rights 35 years later.

That's exactly what Willis set out to do, and in doing so also struck a French songwriter from 24 of the Village People's songs. Willis claimed he had co-written the songs along with Jaques Morali, but Henri Belolo was added by the record companies. A judge ruled in favour of Willis, removing Belolo's name from 13 songs.

It looks like during these legal battles, Willis was granted the ability to use the "Village People" name, and in doing so, decided to create a totally refurbished cast.

So, with a lengthy exhale, that's what's going on with the Village People in 2017. Willis has reformed a totally new group, and plans to perform the hits he wrote all those years back.

HuffPost Australia reached out to the touring company for clarification.

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