What is Red, Yellow, Blue and Purple and is a lot of fun?
It's The Wiggles!
Proof that fashion isn't everything, these four skivvy-clad men have been the superstars to Australian preschoolers for over a decade. The Wiggles are Anthony Field (the blue Wiggle), Murray Cook (the red Wiggle), Jeff Fatt (the purple Wiggle) and Greg Page (the yellow Wiggle). The Wiggles combine lots of simple, catchy, entertaining and educational music in CD's, concerts and videos featuring the four in colour-coded skivvies. Four other costumed characters (Dorothy the Dinosaur, Captain Feathersword, Wags the Dog and Henry the Octopus) and a group of dancers join Anthony, Jeff, Murray and Greg on stage and in the videos, which are filled with much singing, dancing and fun. All this has combined to make The Wiggles popular with both toddlers and their parents, first in Australia and now worldwide. It is estimated that 50% of Australian children either own a Wiggles video or CD or have seen them in concert. Sales of Wiggles videos account for 39.5% of all children's videos sold in Australia.
Anthony, Murray and Greg met while studying Early Childhood Education
at Sydney's Macquarie University
. They began writing children's songs as one of their music projects. Jeff Fatt, who played with Anthony in the popular Australian 80's band The Cockroaches
, was asked to help out with the first album The Wiggles
(the album has since achieved Gold and Platinum status) which was released in 1991. Anthony Field feels that a lot of The Wiggles success comes from their knowledge of child development. "A lot of what we do comes from a child's perspective", says Anthony.
The Wiggles were originally a very different outfit from the band today. For starters there were five of them, but classical musician Philip Wilcher didn't feel entirely happy performing in a children's band, so he left before their first album.
1991: In videos from 1991, the five Wiggles weren't wearing coloured skivvies - that came in 1992 (so children can instantly recognise which Wiggle is which), but the quirky dance moves and crazy facial expressions that would endear them to a generation of kids were already in evidence.
1991 saw The Wiggles make one of their first video appearances with the song "Get Ready to Wiggle". The ABC released a tape of their songs, Wiggle Time. They played their first paid gig at a Randwick pre-school and Dorothy the Dinosaur and Henry the Octopus first appeared.
1992: In 1992 the four remaining Wiggles decided go full-time and quit their day jobs, recorded their second album Here Comes a Song, doned their trademark skivvies and start touring. Anthony originally wore a green skivvy, but as Dorothy the Dinosaur is also green, he soon swapped it for a blue one.
The band members readily admit their coloured tops are only a novelty during their performances - Cook wears black off-stage and the others generally steer away from their yellow, blue and purple personas.
Fatt said "I have worn clothes off the stage which have a purplish or blue tone, but if something is outright purple I wouldn't buy it."
Today The Wiggles own more than 100 coloured skivvies each - just to cover their demanding schedule.
1993: 1993 saw the release of their first full-length video, Wiggle Time. The group toured for 10 months, and Captain Feathersword made his first appearance, on Yummy Yummy. Anthony's brother Paul Field was the original Captain Feathersword, but now is The Wiggles manager.
1994: The Wiggles continued touring throughout 1994, and their song "Hot Potato" won an APRA Award for best children's song.
1995: The Big Red Car starts up in 1995 on the eponymous video, which won them their first ARIA Award as well as their second APRA Award. Wags the Dog first appeared.
1996: The Wiggles performed more than 500 concerts across Australia in 1996 (an even greater achievement as they do not lip-sync,), as well as winning an ARIA for Best Children's Album with Wake Up Jeff. The Wiggles accounted for three of Australia's five top-selling videos of the year. They also signed their first multimillion-dollar merchandising deal. The Wiggles won their third APRA song writing award for best Children's Song in as many years.
1997: The Wiggles Movie (called Magical Adventure! A Wiggly Movie in North America) was released in 1997, and the quartet financed and made a 26-part TV series, which was sold to The Disney Channel and Seven. Business Review Weekly ranked them collectively among Australia's five wealthiest entertainers. The Wiggles signed a new distribution agreement with the ABC after selling more than 850,000 videos and 500,000 albums. The Wiggles share all songwriting credits, and divide royalties evenly.
1998: The Wiggles Movie (written by Anthony's cousin Greg Truman) and Wiggly Wiggly Christmas were among the top 10 videos of 1998. They signed a multimillion-dollar deal with American entertainment group Lyrick to distribute their music and videos in North America. During their Australian Christmas tour, they were seen by 100,000 people in 10 days. A shopping-centre concert in Adelaide was cut short because of dangerously large crowds.
In 1998 they cornered the children's video market for the fourth year in a row. They reached No1 with Yummy Yummy, Big Red Car, Wake Up Jeff and Wiggle Dance.
"They created this genre," said Paul Field. "Before them there were Bananas in Pyjamas and Play School, but no humans in the children's market - especially not grown men."
1998 also saw The Wiggles win their third ARIA for Best Children's Album with Toot Toot.
1999: The Wiggles Movie broke all records during its US video release in 1999. The movie grossed more than $2.6 million at the box office, even though children younger than three were admitted for free. The Wiggles' supported Barney the Dinosaur in their first US tour. Anthony Field was crowned Cleo Bachelor of the Year, beating 50 others, including the likes of James Packer, Michael Klim and Matt Shirvington. Anthony was awarded his trophy by another Australian icon, Dame Edna Everage. To help celebrate the occasion, he was joined on stage by his fellow Wiggles for an impromptu performance of "Hot Potato". Yes, really.
2000: A monthly magazine called "The Wiggles" went on sale in 2000 - it was an instant hit and is currently up to its 33rd edition.
2001: 2001 saw The Wiggles tour Britain, feature in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and the producers of CBS’s Yes, Dear wrote an episode around them (which was aired in 2002).
2002: In 2002 The Wiggles did four one-month tours of the US (playing to 75,000 people in August alone, across the Midwest and Canada). They released two new videos: Wiggly Safari (with Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin) and Wiggle Bay. Upon its US release Wiggly Safari reached No 7 on the US children's video sales charts. They signed agreements to license Asian versions of The Wiggles. The Taiwanese Wiggles recorded their first album (and red Wiggle is a woman!). Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese wiggle clones are expected to be created in the near future. The Wiggles won the GFK Award for The Highest Selling Children's Video for 2002 for Wiggly Safari and were also presented with the first ever GFK Special Achievement Award, which was voted for by retailers and could have gone to any Australian actor, movie, etc.
In 2002 The Wiggles made their first ABC-TV series, which premiered in October 2002 in Australia, but this was not the first time negotiations took place regarding a TV series with the ABC. Paul Field (The Wiggles manager) recalls that the group was told by someone at the ABC: "We don't think you communicate well with children." For that reason, the Wiggles were not to speak, just sing. Their look would have to change too: shorts and caps instead of their trademark colourful skivvies and and black trousers.
"The guys went, 'Yeah, you know, that didn't really work out. We gave it the best shot. Let's make our own one'," says Field. This time around, things have been very different. The Wiggles have remained themselves, they get to sing and speak and work with kids. The shows feature lots of very young kids, behaving in that random toddler way.
2003: So far, 2003 has seen The Wiggles guest star in a number of Australian TV shows, including the cooking show Fresh and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire where Murray won $32,000 which will go to CARE Australia. The Go To Sleep Jeff CD and Eagle Rock CD single were released in Australia, as well as their latest video Space Dancing. The Wiggles will be touring Australia in July, and a US tour is planned for August.
Inside the skivvies
Truth be told, there is absolutely nothing sordid
to be found regarding any of the guys. It seems they really are the same nice, sweet, wholesome guys onstage and off.
Anthony the Wiggle is the vocalist/guitarist and drummer. He loves eating, especially fruit. Anthony says "Oh, food, food, food. I love to eat. Dancing and singing with the Wiggles makes me hungry. I like fruit, fruit salad, hot potatoes, cold spaghetti and mashed banana".
Anthony wears a blue skivvy, black trousers and a face full of mischievous expression.
Born on May 8, 1963 in Camperdown, Sydney, Anthony is the youngest child of eight children. He is 182cm (6 feet) tall. Anthony played in the Australian 80's band The Cockroaches with fellow Wiggle Jeff Fatt.
On May 3rd, 2003 Anthony married Michaela Patisteas. He said: "I'm on top of the world, I want to hug everybody."
Murray the Wiggle is the vocalist, he is always tuning his guitar and often the person who starts the music. Murray says "I have so many different guitars and I used them all recording the music for The Wiggles Movie.
He has the ability to pull a thousand and one faces, each one completely different. Murray wears a red skivvy, black pants and an enormous smile from ear to ear.
Murray Cook's birthday is June 30th (~1960), he is 192 cm (6 foot 3 and a half inches) tall, and is married with two children.
Murray was guitarist in the 1980's Sydney retro cover band 'Bang Shang a Lang', covering classics ranging from The Archies to The Ramones, from Van Halen to The Partridge Family.
Jeff the Wiggle is the keyboard player, vocalist, he loves performing when he is awake. Jeff cannot help falling asleep, and when he dreams he dreams of being asleep. Jeff says "The Wiggles is so much fun, only I use so much energy when I dance and sing that I get tired and I need my sleep, sometimes I fall asleep on stage, but the children wake me up by shouting 'Wake Up Jeff'!". He wears a purple skivvy, black pants and a multiple of wacky grins.
Jeff Fatt is single with no children, his birthday is on July 21st and he is 177 cm (5 foot 10 inches) tall.
Jeff is the only member of the group without a background in early-childhood education and admits that in the early days he wasn't good at communicating with children. "I guess that's the reason I ended up with the falling-asleep thing, because it was a way of getting me involved in the shows without actually having to do anything," he says.
Greg the Wiggle is the lead vocalist, and enjoys singing and dancing because it makes him happy. He is also a magician and performs many amazing tricks. Greg says "Not all of my magic tricks work, but they are still a lot of fun". He wears a yellow skivvy, black pants and a very kind smiling face.
Greg Page's birthday is January 16th, he is 194 cm (6 foot 4 and a half inches) tall, and is married with two children. A physiotherapist has has joined The WIggles when they tour, partially due to this yellow Wiggle having fairly chronic knee trouble "I've got flat feet and my kneecaps aren't in proper alignment," he explains.
Greg has released a number of solo albums, including his 1998 debut, self-titled CD which also features the musical talents of many famous Australian musicians including: Martin Plaza (Mental As Anything), Paul Hester (Crowded House) and Joe Camilleri.
Here Comes a Song
Big Red Car
Wake Up Jeff
Wiggly Wiggly Christmas
The Wiggles Movie Soundtrack
Its a Wiggly Wiggly World
Yule Be Wiggling
Hoop-Dee-Doo Its a Wiggly Party
Eagle Rock! (CD Single)
Go To Sleep Jeff
(1993, re-recorded 1998)
(1993, re-recorded 1998)
Big Red Car Video
The Wiggles Movie
Wake Up Jeff!
The Dorothy the Dinosaur and Friends Video
The Wiggly Big Show (live in concert)
Wiggly Wiggly Christmas
Captain Feathersword The Friendly Pirate
Its a Wiggly Wiggly World
Hoop-Dee-Doo It's a Wiggly Party
Yule Be Wiggling