Last Updated: October 31, 2023
Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$30 Million
Jul 1, 1951 (72 years old)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Singer-songwriter, actor
💰 Compare Victor Willis' Net Worth

What is Victor Willis' net worth?

Victor Willis is an American singer, songwriter, and actor who has a net worth of $30 million. Victor Willis earned fortune and fame as the first member of the disco group Village People. He was the group's lead singer and co-songwriter. Willis always performed dressed as a cop or naval officer. Their most successful single "Y.M.C.A.", reached #1 in nine countries and #2 in two others including the US. Their single "In the Navy" also reached #1 in many countries.

Royalties and Catalog Wealth

To this day he earns a lucrative income stream from royalties and publishing related to songs like "YMCA", "Go West", "In The Navy" and "Macho Man". Those songs are regularly used in everything from Broadway musicals, commercials, slot machines, and television and movies streamings. "Y.M.C.A.", which took just six hours in total to write, has generated millions of dollars in royalties for Victor over the decades.

Victor owns 50% of the Village People's music catalog. This asset alone is worth $20-$30 million. When he returned to Village People in 2017 Victor negotiated a deal that made him the exclusive licensee of the group.

Early Life

Willis was born on July 1, 1951 in Dallas, Texas. His father was a Baptist preacher and Willis began singing while attending his father's church. As he got older, he sought out training in acting and dance and moved to New York City in his mid-20s to join the prestigious Negro Ensemble Company.


While living in New York City in the mid-1970s, Willis began appearing in plays and musicals. He was cast in the original Broadway production of "The Wiz" in 1976. He later was cast in the Australian production of the show. Around this time, he had also been working on his own music. He wrote and recorded several albums during the 1970s for independent labels. He eventually met French disco producer, Jacques Morali. Morali was very supportive of Willis and praised his big voice.

In 1977, Willis agreed to sing lead and background vocals with the Village People. At the time, the group did not yet exist but rather was only a concept created by Willis and Morali to take advantage of the growing popularity of the disco scene. The group released "Village People" in July 1977. The album included the songs "San Francisco (You've Got Me)" and "In Hollywood (Everybody is a Star)." The album became a huge hit in the disco market. Dick Clark invited the group to perform on "American Bandstand." Because the group at that point only really consisted of Willis and Morali, the two placed an ad in music trade papers seeking male singers who could dance and had a mustache. Morali built a group of dancers around Willis to perform in shows, clubs, and videos. Each member of the group dressed as a different character, like a policeman or construction worker.

Victor Willis

Photo provided by Victor Willis

The group's popularity continued to increase throughout the end of the decade. They rose to the top of the charts and scored major hits like "Macho Man," "Y.M.C.A.," "In the Navy," and "Go West." The Village People's popularity peaked in 1979 with a three-month North American tour. The group was featured on the cover of "Rolling Stone" in April 1979. A few months later, in August, Willis decided to leave the group. He was replaced by Ray Simpson. At the end of the year, Willis collaborated with the group to release "Live and Sleezy," a double album featuring Willis on lead vocals on the "Live" disc and Simpson on the other disc.

In 1980, Willis again left the group. He did not appear in the Village People feature film, "Can't Stop the Music," though he did write the lyrics for two of the film's songs – "Magic Night" and "Milkshake." The film is largely considered to be a flop. After Willis left the group, the Village People never had another hit. Morali convinced Willis to return to the group in 1982 for the album "Fox on the Box." After its release, Willis left the group again.

After leaving the Village People, Willis declined offers to record and consistently refused to perform any of the songs he had written for the Village People. He recorded a solo album in 1979 which remained unreleased for over 30 years. The album, "Solo Man," was finally released in 2010. The same year, he appeared at several Major League Baseball games to sing the national anthem.

Willis was involved in a number of lawsuits regarding copyright issues related to Village People songs. In 2015, Willis was ruled to be a 50% owner of 13 different Village People songs, resolving a longtime dispute. In 2017, following the resolution of this dispute, Willis resumed his role as lead singer of the Village People. The group resumed recording and began touring internationally.

Personal Life

Victor was married to Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, from 1978 to 1982. He wrote the lyrics for the album she released, "Josephine Superstar." They divorced in 1982.

Willis married an entertainment executive and lawyer named Karen in 2007. Together they own residences in New York City and San Diego.

After leaving the Village People, Willis struggled with drugs for many years. He also had a number of run-ins with police over the years. In 2006, after being arrested, he was given probation and ordered into rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic. In 2007, following his treatment, Willis made his first statement to the press in over 25 years. He announced that he had defeated his drug addiction and was seeing his life clearly for the first time in years. He was later able to resume his career in music.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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