Wake up Jeff! Meet the Wiggles…

Written by on 20 October 2020

As The Cockroaches were changing from the late 1980’s, the Wiggles began to form thanks to a course at Macquarie University.

Anthony Field, Murray Cook and Greg Page were studying early childhood education while Phillip Wilcher was in the early childhood music program and Jeff Fatt who was known as being one of The Cockroaches was recruited to give their sound a boost, together the five were the original five Wiggles.

They released The Wiggles in 1991 for a cost of around four thousand dollars, this album sold 100,000 copies, they also made a video which went down well with viewers.

A couple of the songs during the early years were The Cockroaches material reworked to suit The Wiggles style and of course be appropriate for children.

Phillip Wilcher left the group in 1992 and is a widely known and respected classical music composer with nine studio albums and two compilation albums to his name.

Former members of The Cockroaches, John and Paul Field both worked for The Wiggles with John contributing to songs and Paul started working for them in 1996 and continued on until 2020.

By the time of the 1992 release of the album “Here Comes A Song”, they went from wearing outfits that looked like they from The Cockroaches to outfits that resembled those worn in the original series of Star Trek.

By 1994 success really started to happen for The Wiggles as “Yummy Yummy” was two times Platinum and had songs like “Hot Potato”, “Fruit Salad” and “D.O.R.O.T.H.Y. (My Favourite Dinosaur)”, not only were they popular on CD but they were also popular on VHS.

“Yummy Yummy” was also popular in the United States as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified it Gold which is classified as selling 500,000 units.

If you’re in your early to mid 30’s you might recall a time when you would go to a creche or a place where you’re minded for awhile as a pre-teen and you had to watch videos like Yummy Yummy and if you went twice a week, you’d see it a twice a week and by the end of the year you would of endured 104 viewings ensuring that the songs would be forever stuck in your head.

The success continued from there as Big Red Car, Wake Up Jeff!, Wiggly Wiggly Christmas, The Wiggles Movie Soundtrack, Toot Toot!, It’s a Wiggly Wiggly World, Wiggle Time!, Yule Be Wiggling, Hoop Dee Doo: It’s a Wiggly Party and Wiggly Safari were all Platnium award albums in a row for The Wiggles between 1995 and 2002.

During this time, The Wiggles operations expanded dramatically as they went from supporting Barney shows and having their music sold in boutique stores in the United States to having their own shows and their DVD’s sold in Walmart and by 2002 Disney came calling and added Wiggles video clips and their shows to their channel.

Greg Page had to stop being a Wiggle in 2006 due to health issues and he was replaced by understudy Sam Moran and The Wiggles kept on being a success despite the change as kids got used to the new Yellow Wiggle.

The Wiggles were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2011 joining Australia’s greatest bands and solo artists who have received the honour.

Sam Moran was controversially replaced by the returning Greg Page in 2012 with The Wiggles receiving a lot of backlash from fans and the press for the way they handled the matter.

Sam’s tenure with The Wiggles was a success as they won five ARIA Awards from five attempts and he went on to host the show “Play Along with Sam” scoring a #1 album on the iTunes Children’s Music Charts and at the 2015 ARIA Awards he won “Best Children’s Album” beating none other than The Wiggles.

Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt and Greg Page announced their retirements from touring in 2012 with Simon Pryce, Lachlan Gillespie and Emma Watkins replacing the trio and joining Anthony Field who decided to stay on.

The line-up change did not affect the popularity of The Wiggles as their studio albums were back on the ARIA chart in 2014 as thirteen of their 2014 to 2020 studio albums have charted with an additional two on different chart sections and “Nursery Rhymes 2” peaked at No. 3 in 2018.

A reunion of the original Wiggles for charity occurred in January 2020 and ended in near tragedy as Greg Page suffered a cardiac arrest, fortunately his life was saved and he underwent a medical procedure to correct his health issues.

The original Wiggles count in the Wiggles during the year 2020 has temporarily been boosted to two as Jeff Fatt is filling in for Lachlan Gillespie who recently became a father.

The Wiggles have made 55 albums, 9 live albums, 8 compilation albums, 2 EP’s, 31 singles, 1 audiobook, 14 other releases and 4 Karaoke releases and there are no signs of The Wiggles slowing down.

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