Henri Belolo, who with producing partner Jacques Morali made The Village People a late-'70s pop phenomenon, died Saturday at age 82.
A native of Morocco who found his first professional success in Paris, Belolo worked with several top French recording stars. But his most enduring work came on this side of the Atlantic.
Fascinated by the danceable R&B of the 1970s popularized by Gamble and Huff's Sound of Philadelphia, Belolo and Morali made a splash with The Ritchie Family and their disco classics "Brazil" and "Tangerine." In 1978, The Village People broke through with "Macho Man" and then the iconic "YMCA," which spent over a year on the charts.
Village People cowboy Randy Jones calls Belolo "a friend, visionary and international business genius who helped define the look and the sound of the disco era." On Facebook, Jones credits Belolo and the six original Village People for bringing "humor, glamour, sass and, some may offer, a unique sense of wit to the music business at the very time it was in critical need... Life changed when I met Henri and Jacques."