updated 04/02/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 04/02/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Still, Hughes, 50, went to his grave flying the Village People colors. At the wake following his death on March 4 in New York City, he was laid out, as he had requested, in the outfit that made him famous. "He looked great," says Eric Anzalone, 35, who in the mid-'90s replaced Hughes as the band's biker after Hughes, then a heavy smoker, was diagnosed with the lung cancer that killed him. "He had chains with him, his storm trooper cap. It was quite an image. I won't forget it."
Nor will anyone else who saw the group in its heyday. In 1977 Hughes, an aspiring singer, was working as a toll taker in a Brooklyn tunnel when he answered an ad placed by a record producer looking for "macho types...for disco group." The next year the six-man ensemble scored big with "Macho Man" and, later, "Y.M.C.A."—which, despite their subtly gay overtones, sold millions and had universal appeal.
Although Hughes's father, Patrick, 75, a retired financial planner, recalls his son as "a born entertainer," Hodo remembers another aspect of his friend's personality. "I was reluctant to ask Glenn for anything," he says, "because I knew he'd drop everything to help me. He was really an elegant human being."