Former Village People lead singer planning to sue Rays

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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.