“Ahoy there, me hearties!” The Wiggles have spent the last 21 whopping potato-tastic years touring, spreading songs of joy and instilling a fun spirit to all whom they encounter. And now, it’s time to rest.
Founding member Greg Page (that’s Yellow Wiggle to you) told Ottawa Citizen that The Wiggles haven’t just been touring for 21 years but 21 years straight which he remarked is “quite phenomenal really.”
“If you look at the last 21 years of the Wiggles, we’ve done over 7,000 shows,” Page told Ottawa Citizen. “I think the Rolling Stones have done only – just on 1,000 shows in 21 years. People don’t necessarily realize the amount of time that is spent away from home for these guys.”
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To find out how this beloved musical group reached the level of fame and fandom that 21 straight years of touring demands, let’s wiggle on back to where it all began. The children entertainers known collectively as The Wiggles formed in Sydney, Australia back in 1991 when founding members Grew Page, Anthony Field, and Murray Cook met at Macquarie University. The three fellow students were all studying Early Childhood Education together. Most of the students preparing to become early education teachers were women so the few men in the group naturally bonded together. Page, Field, and Cook began to write children’s songs together when they weren’t studying. The songs were good and they group considered how they could grow and get their songs heard.
Eventually, the trio quadrupled when they added Jeff Fatt whom Field was already well acquainted with. Back in the 80s, Field and Fatt played in a band called The Cockroaches.
That’s how the the four original members, Greg Page, Anthony Field, Murray Cook, and Jeff Fatt came together to form The Wiggles.
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Thanks to a song that Field penned called “Get Ready To Wiggle”, the group decided that “The Wiggles” could be the perfect name for their kids’ musical group. Armed with a bunch of fun songs aimed at little ones, the group took their act to ABC, Australia’s national broadcasting company.
They were signed to a contract by Meryl Gross, head of ABC Music and hit the ground running by taking touring into their own hands. The foursome scheduled their tours with Nursing Mothers’ Groups, Playgroup Associations, different community groups and preschools. They drove in two vans to hold all of their equipment and set everything up themselves.
As their act grew and grew, Field suggested that they add an actor to the group. Enter Paul Paddick, who was a friend of Field’s. Paddick and Field had met when Paddick was performing in West Side Story.
After Paddick joined, The Wiggles were in full-blown fame and performing at a regular rate of 500 shows per year in Australia which worked out to 3 or 4 shows per day! In 1997, “The Wiggles Movie” hit the big screen and the following year, the act created and self-funded their very own TV show.
Reaching a vastly larger audience helped The Wiggles even more! By 1999, international fame was calling their name. Their second TV series reached all of Australia, the UK, and America and in 2002, Disney came a-knockin’ and the group was part of the “Playhouse Disney” launch on the Disney Channel in America.
The following year, The Wiggles were mega-touring all over America, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. After 15 years of Wiggle-worthy service, Greg Page hung up his famous yellow shirt, or rather passed it on to new member Sam Moran due to health issues.
The Wiggles continued to tour strong as ever, delighting their fans with every syllable. Though the cast will largely change, there’s no reason for Wiggle fans to feel blue. The group’s first female member, Emma Watkins, along with Lachlan Gillespie and Simon Pryce and rested and ready to take over for the three original members who are so excited to move on with the next chapter of their lives.
To date, The Wiggles have earned 30 million in combined CD and DVD sales since they formed back in 1991. They also earned 17 gold, 12 platinum, 3 double-platinum, and 10 multi-platinum awards.
The three original members who are leaving The Wiggles, while proud of their incredible accomplishments, acknowledge that their hard work and resulting payoff is also a reminder of how much time they’ve spent away from their families, something that they are looking to remedy ASAP.
“All three new Wiggles have been working with the existing Wiggles for some time,” Page told tonedeaf.com. “I think it’s really important that it’s not seen to be that they’re replacing the Wiggles who are leaving. They’re new Wiggles with different personalities and different characters.”
The Wiggles’ Instagram page has garnered 144,000 followers and countless fans of all ages around the world who can’t wait to see what the future holds for The Wiggles.
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Sources: Ottawa Citizen, tonedeaf.thebrag.com, wiggles.fandom.com
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