Victor Willis, vocalist and co-founder of disco greats the Village People, told President Donald Trump to stop using two of the group’s most famous songs, “Y.M.C.A.” and “Macho Man,” at his rallies.
In a Facebook post last week, Willis said the decision came after Trump had law enforcement officers clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square with tear gas, batons and explosive devices so he could take a photo in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Demonstrators had gathered in Lafayette Square to protest police brutality and the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. (Coincidentally, Willis frequently appeared as a police officer while performing with the Village People.)
More from Rolling Stone
“If Trump orders the U.S. military to fire on his own citizens (on U.S. soil), Americans will rise up in such numbers outside of the White House that he might be forced out of office prior to the election,” Willis wrote. “Don’t do it Mr. President! And I ask that you no longer use any of my music at your rallies especially ‘Y.M.C.A.’ and ‘Macho Man.’ Sorry, but I can no longer look the other way.”
Willis’ note actually marked reversal of his stance on Trump’s use of the Village Peoples’ music. Back in February, Willis wrote that even though fans had contacted the group to demand they ask Trump to stop using “Y.M.C.A.” and “Macho Man,” Willis refrained from doing so because “our music is not being used for a specific endorsement.”
He continued, “[Trump] has remained respectful in his use of our songs and has not crossed the line; if he or any other candidate were to use any of our songs in a manner that would suggest our endorsement, or in a promotional advertisement, that would cross the line. Like millions of Village People fans worldwide, the President and his supporters have shown a genuine like for our music. Our music is all-inclusive and certainly everyone is entitled to do the YMCA dance, regardless of their political affiliation. Having said that, we certainly don’t endorse his use as we’d prefer our music be kept out of politics.”
The Village People now join a large list of artists who have demanded Trump not use their music at campaign rallies, or criticized him for doing so. Others include Queen, the Prince estate, Neil Young, Rihanna, R.E.M. and Aerosmith.
See where your favorite artists and songs rank on the Rolling Stone Charts.