Puckett, a 61-year-old native of Hibbing, Minn., was one of the biggest names in popular music in the late 1960s when his band's first five singles reached Gold Record status for sales of more than 500,000 copies each.
With his earthy baritone voice belting out ballads of love and romance, Puckett and the Union Gap sold more than 25 million albums in a brief career, starting with “Woman, Woman” in 1967 and continuing with “Young Girl,” “Lady Willpower,” “Over You,” “Don't Give in to Him,” and “This Girl Is a Woman Now.”
Puckett disbanded the group in 1971, but its music remains in steady rotation on classic rock and oldies radio stations.
In 2001, Puckett, who lives in Clearwater, Fla., released two discs: “In Europe,” originally released in Europe in 1992, featuring remakes of “Young Girl” and “Lady Willpower,” and “At Christmas.”
Last year, Puckett released a live album featuring a new composition, “Home,” which he dedicated to members of the U.S. armed forces.
The Village People, a group that was formed in New York City in 1977, made its mark in 1978 with the perennial favorite “Macho Man,” followed by the party-choreography classic, “Y.M.C.A.” in 1979.
Disco producer-composer Jacques Morali was inspired to create the campy six-man band after seeing Felipe Rose dancing in an Indian costume in New York's Greenwich Village.
Morali came up with the idea of teaming Rose with singers and actors dressed as stereotyped characters: the soldier (Alex Briley), the construction worker (David Hodo), the cop (Victor Willis), the cowboy (Randy Jones), and the biker (Glenn Hughes).
Their disco music, laden with double-entendres, led to six Gold Records and four Platinum Records.
More than two decades later, “Y.M.C.A.” remains a favorite for wedding receptions and parties, as crowds use their arms to spell out the succession of letters.
Original members Rose, Briley, and Hodo are still performing as Village People. Hughes died of lung cancer in March, 2001, and was buried in his leather biker outfit.
Among the Village People's recent engagements was a performance at Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne's New Year's 2003 party.
They also participated in a documentary on music and cultural exchanges with aborigines in Australia.
The Sixth Annual Miller Lite Pizza Challenge will feature Gary Puckett at 9:30 tonight and the Village People at 9:30 p.m. tomorrow. Also performing will be Toledo's American Idol star Candice Coleman at 6:30 tonight, followed by the Mighty Meaty Swing Kings at 8; tomorrow, blues rockers the Dynatones will play at 7 p.m.
Event hours are 5 to 11:30 p.m. today and 4 to 11:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Westgate Village Shopping Center, Central Avenue and Secor Road.
Admission is $5; children under 12 will be admitted free. Proceeds benefit the Toledo Opera's education and outreach programs.