Real Life

EXCLUSIVE: Life lessons with Ray Simpson from the Village People

40 years in the music industry isn't too shabby so Ray must be doing something right...

By Bella Brennan
He's the voice behind classic bangers like Y.M.C.A., Macho Man, In the Navy and Go West.
And this May, The Village People are bringing their sweet disco beats Down Under for their 40th anniversary tour.
Now To Love caught up with the band's lead singer, Ray Simpson aka Cop, to talk about their upcoming shows and the fascinating life lessons he's learnt along the way of his impressively long career.

Y.M.C.A. will always get the party started

When you're the undisputed Kings of Disco who've sold more than 100 million records, you're going to know how to compile the perfect party playlist. Their back catalogue of hits is pretty impressive but for Ray, Y.M.C.A. is a must-have.
"People react to it so much and it’s a fun, silly song that people love dancing to."
"It’s something that you’ll share with the crowd," Ray says of his favourite anthem.
Ray says he loves the magic of their music and the fact it transcends age groups.

The key to a happy marriage comes all down to this

He's been happily married to wife Leslie for decades and according to the 63-year-old, time apart actually works wonders.
"Be a musician or get a job that gets you out of town when you get on their nerves," he laughs.
"In any kind of relationship, you need a certain amount of trust and a certain amount of freedom and to let people be who they are."
"We have a high energy show and we’re going to get everyone involved," Rays promises of their 40 year reunion tour.

Surround yourself with people you admire and you never know what will happen

More than anyone, Ray knows all about being in the right place at the right time. In 1980 when the band's original Cop Victor Willis quit the group, Ray was ready and waiting in the wings to help.
"Whatever it is that you like, hang around the people that do it. Don’t look to get paid, because it’s not about getting paid right away," he advises to future musicians.
"If you hang around like-minded people, sooner or later somebody’s not going to show up and they’ll say ‘can you sing?’ And the answer is always yes."
Ray and his daughter, choreographer Alayna Simpson. "I enjoy her career," Ray says.

How to make a good thing last

Although The Village People have had a few incarnations, it's no mean feat that they're still touring 40 years since their inception.
So what's the key to their longevity?
"Don’t stop and watch your back! Just keep doing your thing and don’t be so judgmental," Ray says.
"In a group, you need respect for each other. You have to work closely together, and you don’t have to love everything about everyone, but as long as you have each other’s respect, you can go out and do what you do. When you come home, everyone goes their separate ways."
Ray joined the band after the original Cop, Victor Willis, quit.

Get ready to dance at their Aussie shows

Audience participation is mandatory while glitter and leather are encouraged.
"We’re going to give you what we got! We have a high energy show and we’re going to get everyone involved," Ray promises.