Henri Belolo, Village People Co-Creator and Producer, Dies at 82

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Village People

The French music producer helped shape disco music, penning hits that were featured in several films, Broadway productions, commercials and more.

Henri Belolo, co-creator of Village People, died Saturday, the band's official Facebook page has confirmed. He was 82.

"In loving memory of Henri Belolo (1936-2019)," it said. The cause of death is currently unknown. A private funeral was already held in France, but the group is currently working on a public memorial service, to be announced soon.

The French music producer helped shape disco music, penning hits that were featured in several films, Broadway productions, commercials and more. Of course, Village People's monster hits "Y.M.C.A.," "Macho Man" and "In the Navy" are also still played at weddings, parties and bar and bat mitzvahs to this day.

Belolo was born in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1936. He moved to Paris when he was in his twenties, where he worked as a DJ/producer after discovering American and African music brought over by U.S. troops. Belolo finally moved to America in 1973, where he met fellow Moroccan producer Jacques Morali. 

Belolo and Morali teamed to produce the Ritchie Family's "Brazil" in 1975, which soon grew to be a hit and led the partnership between the two producers to carry on into the next decade. Together, they shaped the world of disco, hitting up nightclubs and eventually forming the six-member group Village People in 1978.

The band was wildly progressive, embracing gay culture with fantasy characters, costumes and a free-spirited approach to music. The characters included a construction worker, police officer, cowboy, Indian, biker and soldier.

In 1991, Village People performed during the New South Wales Rugby Final in Sydney, Australia, which caused a disco resurgence for the band. They also performed at the MTV Movie Awards. 

In the 2000s, the group opened for Cher on her Farewell Tour and received a star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame. Just last year, they released their first new record in 33 years, A Village People Christmas.

Belolo became a strong ally for his partner Morali, who was gay and died from AIDS complications in 1991. 

Billboard has reached out for additional comment.

See the band's tributes below.

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.