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Village People Cofounder Henri Belolo Dead at 82

Henri Belolo
Village People official Facebook

Henri Belolo and Jaques Morali conceived of a costume group while frequenting New York gay bars.

Henri Belolo, one of the producers behind the Village People, is dead at 82.

The disco group, famously conceived of during a trip to a gay bar, confirmed news of Belolo's passing earlier this week on its official Facebook page, which also switched out its cover photo to show one of the producer with the band during its 1970s heyday.

Belolo and Jacques Morali had produced music in France for years before coming to New York intent on conquering the U.S. music scene. Morali, who was gay, and Belolo, who was straight, lived in Greenwich Village and began hanging out in Manhattan gay clubs.

One a fateful night patrons dressed as cowboys or Indians, and the concept for the Village People was born.

Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart bought the idea after finding success with similar costumed acts like KISS and Parliament, and rest is LGBTQ history. Belolo wrote and produced hits for the group for years. With a vibe that was "blatantly gay," the group helped bring the culture of gay bars into the mainstream.

Belolo told Rolling Stone that he believed the group advanced the cause of gay cultural acceptance at a time of more prevalent homophobia in the U.S.

"I did not like that American mentality of bigotry and hypocrisy," he once said. "And I didn't see why these people would be treated like this."

Morali died in 1991, one of many gay celebrities to pass at the peak of the AIDS crisis.

The music of the YMCA continues, however, to live on with the letter-forming movements of old ladies oblivious to subtext at movies everywhere.

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