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Village People Cowboy Returns Home

September 30, 2010, 9:55 PM by Don Jorgensen

Village People Cowboy Returns Home
MITCHELL, SD - It's been over 30 years since the hit song "YMCA" made its first debut on radio stations all across America. But the disco group of the 70's, who performed that arm waving song, is still going strong and so is their music.

The Village People will perform this Saturday night at Dakota Wesleyan University's homecoming and for one of the group's members, it truly is a homecoming.

Their music is as fresh today as it was in the 1970's and 1980's.

Songs like "YMCA" and "Macho Man" are still being played at wedding dances and parties three decades later.

Jeff Olson, who is the cowboy in the group, says the key to their success has been simple. 

"I think every artist would agree.  You never know if you have the exact chemistry, but it's got to have a hook.  It's got to be simplistic; it can't be something you spend a lot of time thinking about," Olson said.

Olson attended Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell from 1970-1975. He says he's always been musically inclined, playing in several garage bands growing up. But five years after DWU, Olson's life changed forever when he saw an ad in the paper.

"I responded and went to the audition and I got the job right there.  Right then and there.  Right at that spot," Olson said.

Olson says the group didn't write most of the disco songs, including "YMCA."  In fact, the handing waving gesture wasn't even their idea. 

"It was stolen.  Trust me, it was stolen," Olson said.

The crowd on American Bandstand started doing it first. 

"Yeah, we just said that might be catchy.  It's like everything we do, it's just senseless.  It's easy.  If it's easy and senseless, people will have a good time doing it," Olson said.

And they still do.

Olson first joined Village People in 1980. He currently lives in Connecticut. Village People performs anywhere between 60 to 140 shows a year.

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