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Former Village People lead singer planning to sue Rays

Aug 12, 2011, 2:14 PM EDT

village people

Victor Willis, who was the lead singer (and cop) in the Village People before leaving the group in 1984, announced yesterday that he plans to sue the Tampa Bay Rays “within the next 30 days.”

Willis is upset because in promoting a Village People concert at Tropicana Field last August the Rays used some video footage from 1978, when he was still in the band, and he feels that misled fans.

Willis is now 58 years old and apparently a recluse, so his publicist explained:

His voice is very distinctive. People know that song. They get excited, thinking he is going to be there. What we would like ideally from the Rays is to ask them to apologize and give us assurances that they won’t do that again.

That certainly seems reasonable enough, although you’d think the Rays would probably have agreed to that without Willis going public with his plans to sue. Stephen Nohlgren of the St. Petersburg Times notes that lawsuit or not Willis doesn’t really need any of the Rays’ money, as “‘YMCA’ alone earns him more than $1 million a year in songwriting royalties.” Incidentally, that’s more than all but nine of the Rays’ players are earning this season.

  1. bloodysock - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    It’s fun to sue the R-A-Y-S

  2. halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    This is hilarious because the Village People still think they are relevant. Unbelievable. Frivilous lawsuit.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:26 PM

      Worse, the RAYS still think the Village People are relevant!!!

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:31 PM

        LOL!!! Yeah, but understandable. Remember this is a fanbase that rings cowbells when they get excited. I don’t think their standards are too high. I hear that they will next be bringing in Aaron Neville to do a concert. I hear they expect a rather large crowd of about 2,000 people.

      • Michael - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        Actually, as touring nostalgia acts go, the Village People are known for being pretty good. They actually do the 5-part harmonies live while dancing – Britney Spears can’t do a 1-part harmony live.

        From what I understand, the former lead singer basically tracks the group around the country and sues whenever he sees an opportunity, so that would amount to a good chunk of cash in and of itself.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:13 PM

        Yeah, Michael, I would agree with you there. Spears couldn’t light a match to the talent of the Village People because, afterall, she has no talent. As far as this dude going around and suing everybody, it’s a joke. If this guy get 1million + in royalties per year, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on in court. Like I said before, bogus lawsuit that will be dropped by the courts.

      • hittfamily - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:24 PM

        I’m a Rays fan, but I’m fine with the lawsuit. You use somebody’s likeness to make money, you owe them royalties. Unless you are the NCAA, then you own the name and likeness to all your slaves….I mean student ath o letes.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        hittfamily, I respect you as a commenter and your passion. But, tell me dude, what’s the deal with the cowbells?

      • hittfamily - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        The cowbells are awesome!!!!!

        Just kidding, they’re terrible. They don’t hand them out at the door, it’s just a few people who bring them. When I go to the games, I have never actually seen anyone ringing one. Its is just so quiet ,and with the dome, you can hear them really well. I actually heard the beerman on the telecast the other night. BEEERRR HEEEEEEERRRREEE. Over and over. It was freaking annoying. Im sure they had to tell the new guy to quit.

        I don’t like the atmosphere at the Trop, but it has nothing to do with the building. I don’t live in Tampa/St Pete, but make the drive to go to a dozen or so games a year. Last year, I took my Dad to the game when Price and Soriano beat the O’s to clinch the division. With 2 outs in the 8th, Price had an 0-2 count. My dad and I stood up and started clapping. The usher came down and asked us to sit down. I couldn’t believe it. He told us to keep clapping, but only stand up when everyone else was standing. Naturally my reaction was “F*** off”. Not really, but it should have been. They discourage fans from being fans, then wonder why nobody comes to the games. It’s not an opera, and we weren’t those obnoxious fans who insist on standing in the 3rd inning, but if there was ever a time to want your fans to get up and get loud, that was the time.

        The fans at the game remind me more of being at a high school game than being at a pro game. A lot of single old men, very few families, and no big time beer drinkers (that one I’m happy about)

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:16 PM


        I was stationed at MacDill in Tampa for several years. So, I know what you are talking about. As a matter of fact, I was at the Devil Ray’s (yes, when they were called that) first game ever at Tropicana Field, watching Boggs, Canseco, McGriff, etc. at the end of their careers. Sorry to hear that the place is so anti-fan friendly. If you come to the northeast corridor, I guarantee you this isn’t the case.

    • kopy - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      Well, he does still get $1 million a year in YMCA royalties. If that’s being irrelevant, sign me up.

      • xmatt0926x - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:35 PM

        Right on Kopy.I was thinking the same thing. I think the village people music is laughable at best, but if that one song is all they are ever known for then they willl be more relevant than most people for years to come as that song, however cheesy it is will be played forever. and of course a cool Million every year for being so irrelevant and doing nothing but enjoying life would suit me just fine.

  3. snowbirdgothic - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    So let me get this straight:

    He’s a recluse with a publicist.


  4. sportsdrenched - Aug 12, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    He must think he’s a Macho Man sueing people left and right.

    • sneschalmers - Aug 12, 2011 at 5:23 PM

      Hey man. There’s no need to feel down.

  5. wlschneider09 - Aug 12, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    Is it just me, or does the construction guy look a little like Gleeman?

    I wonder if he wears cargo shorts…

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